In the few short years since it's introduction to consumers, the stock of VR devices have fuelled multiple industries to respond. While most of the money to be made is in the gargantuan video game industry currently, there is a growing trend of broadcasts of VR live sports for the major leagues in the world.
How Brands Utilise VR
In previous sporting events, such as the 2015 Rugby World Cup, O2 utilised a VR experience of their Wear the Rose ad campaign while AIG (who were sponsors for New Zealand) showed a 360º presentation of the famous All Blacks Haka which allowed the viewer to stand alongside or opposing. Manchester City F.C filmed inside the tunnel allowing fans to experience an otherwise forbidden location during major sporting events, while Mountain Dew created an ad that put racing fans in a Nascar with Dale Earnhardt Jr, hitting speeds of up to 100mph.
A strong advocate for VR advertising is Omaid Hiwaizi, the head of brand experience at Blippar, who says:
"It’s not really a choice for brands – I think people will quickly reject brands that don’t act a bit like an excited or knowledgeable fan in the next seat – albeit one who knows that they have to shut up at certain points in the game".
Despite all of these companies using 360º filming for a VR experience, they were rolled out prior to Dec 2015, with VR in it's infancy. Between 2014 - Dec 2016, the VR market size has risen from $110m to $2.7b with lowering in price of hardware and the rise in availability of content contributing to it.
VR Live Sports
As of September 2016, the NBA launched it's VR live sports season pass that entailed 1 match being filmed 360º every week putting the viewer courtside. The Daytona 500 allows a VR spot in the pitlane during the race, so the viewer can swap from cameras to watch the race or get involved with the crew. The US Open has live broadcast from the tee box letting you get closer to the players than spectators attending the event.
The consistent theme across the successful uses of VR for sporting events is to provide an immersive experience that goes beyond simply buying a ticket to the stadium. Basketball fans dream of courtside, boxing fans ringside, racing fans in the pit, football and rugby fans in the dug-out, however incorporating the best ideas into a live sports event turns the novel idea into a must-have event.