A Guide To Using VR AR or MR To Engage Sports Fans

Immersive technologies are no longer gimmicks, but could they be the key to increasing the value of sports rights? Our Senior UX Product Manager weighs in:

By José Somolinos, Senior UX Product Manager, Accedo

AR, VR and MR – they all sound like they could join the likes of the MRI and the CAT scan right? Well, they all actually acquire their second initial from reality, and have nothing to do with medical examinations. But what exactly are these new immersive technologies, how do they differ and what do they mean for the sports broadcasting business?

Virtual Reality: There’s quite an unfortunate assumption surrounding Virtual Reality (VR) (which immerses the viewer in another world) and that’s a belief that it is a medium only suited to gaming. Statistics prove this couldn’t be further from the truth – at the Facebook F8 conference Oculus, the VR technology company, revealed that 85% of the time spent on its platform is devoted to consuming video.

Augmented Reality: AR is about the application understanding reality and simply enhancing, or augmenting it with detail. Unlike VR, it doesn’t try to shift you to another world, rather it wants to enrich the real world.

Mixed Reality: Now this is a lot harder to differentiate from AR and most experts will disagree, but to me, MR is essentially concerned with positioning virtual objects over the real world. In this sense, digital objects are anchored to points in the real world, co-existing and interacting seamlessly.

Ok, so what can we do with these technologies?

I think sports broadcasting will be a particularly interesting area for these technologies, especially as big-budget internet players like Netflix and Amazon begin to enter the fray.

Buying up sports rights left, right and center, these internet players may find that VR, AR and MR could be the key to edging ahead of the competition. Immersive technologies has a huge potential to entice new customers to platforms. After all, if sports rights holders can offer more for money spent, consumers have a much bigger incentive to subscribe to costly sports subscriptions.

For fans that can’t attend: VR means we have the potential to suddenly offer an at-home experience to rival the in-stadium one. Immersiveness is the key here.

For fans that want more: AR could make a real difference to sports broadcasting by serving valuable insights and statistics to fans during a game. The social aspect is the key here.

For fans that want to follow the action: Long distance sports event are hard to keep track of. Using AR and MR in conjunction, it could be possible to offer a cohesive view of the race course even while the viewer watches on a regular TV screen. Making the service indispensable is the key here.

Immersive technologies such as VR, AR and MR, have the potential to revolutionise not just sports, but broadcasting in general, by providing new and interesting ways to tell stories.

This blog post is a synopsis of an article by José Somolinos in the latest issue of Broadcast Pro Middle East (page 32).

NOTE: If you are attending IBC 2018 from September 14-18 in Amsterdam, then book a meeting with José Somolinos on the Accedo stand (14.E10)  and try out our new VR, AR and MR sports viewing experiences.

 

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