Fox starts the soccer VR broadcast
August 30, 2016
This marks the first time the Bundesliga will broadcast live to an international audience in virtual reality. This is another innovative event production for the Bundesliga, which aims to stay ahead of the curve through innovation and technology in sports. In total, seven cameras will capture the action, providing pitch-level shots as NextVR continues to build a virtual reality platform that provides content for the largest fan bases around the world.
The virtual reality space is still a work in progress. While there are already many use cases for it, from gaming to education, developers continue to find new ways to fiddle with the technology. A pure example of this is Virtually Live, a startup designing immersive VR experiences for live sports. Here's the gist behind its project: Once you've strapped on a virtual reality headset, you can follow games in real-time and feel like you're close to the action.
To convey that sensation, Virtually Live uses computer-generated imagery of players and stadiums, plus tracking information provided by Stats, which has deals with some of the "top" European football (soccer) teams in the world as well as the NBA. My demo was powered by an HTC Vive and took me into a match between English Premier League rivals Manchester United and Manchester City. I had a few options once I set foot in that world. One of them was to watch the game's broadcast on a screen or hear audio from it, inside a virtual VIP suite. But, if I wanted to do that, I may as well just do so on my big-screen TV, not a VR headset.
The Bundesliga brings Germany’s top 18 football teams together in an annual competition for national glory and international recognition in the world’s most popular sport. Viewers will have the ability to watch a produced feed with cameras placed in the stands, along the sidelines, midfield and behind the goal, as Manuel Neuer, Philipp Lahm, and Robert Lewandowski aim to kick off Bayern München’s title defense against 4-time champion Werder Bremen.
Now, what I did find bizarre was the ability to transport myself anywhere within Etihad Stadium, Manchester City's home venue, including the field during the match and across the different seat levels. It's obviously not the same as being physically present, but I can see how some people would enjoy an experience like this. Namely, those who can't make it to games on a regular basis or simply want something different than the traditional television-viewing experience.
About FOX Sports:
FOX Sports is the umbrella entity representing 21st Century FOX’s wide array of multi-platform US-based sports assets. Built with brands capable of reaching more than 100 million viewers in a single weekend, FOX Sports includes ownership and interests in linear television networks, digital and mobile programming, broadband platforms, multiple web sites, joint-venture businesses and several licensing partnerships. FOX Sports includes the sports television arm of the FOX Broadcasting Company; FS1; FS2; Fox’s 22 regional sports networks, their affiliated regional web sites, and FSN national programming; FOX Soccer Plus and FOX Soccer 2Go; FOX Deportes and FOX College Sports. In addition, FOX Sports also encompasses FOX Sports Digital, which includes FOXSports.com, FOX Sports GO, Whatifsports.com, and Yardbarker.com. Also included in the Group are FOX’s interests in joint-venture businesses Big Ten Network and BTN 2Go, as well as licensing agreements that establish the FOX Sports Radio Network.
NextVR enables the transmission of live, long-form virtual reality content in broadcast quality – leading the way for live and on-demand VR to become a mainstream experience for sporting events, concerts, cinematic productions and more. Launched in 2009, NextVR has more than 36 patents granted or pending for the capture, compression, transmission, and display of virtual reality content. NextVR's platform allows the fully immersive content to be streamed with pristine quality using current home and mobile Internet connections. NextVR was founded by veterans in stereoscopic imaging technology, software development, and an award-winning filmmaker. For more information, go to www.nextvr.com.