VR, AR Poised For Growth Despite Uncertainties

VR, AR Poised For Growth Despite Uncertainties
March 7, 2017
Los Angeles, CA - July 13, 2016 - Microsoft Theatre: LeBron James during The ESPYS Presented by Capital One (Photo by Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images)


BOSTON — Media and marketing executives from the WWE, Major League Baseball Advanced Media and the NBA weighed in on emerging over-the-top platforms, live streaming and reaching new international audiences at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference this week.


When asked about a platform that’s currently below the radar and potentially poised for growth, virtual reality along with mixed and augmented reality were all highlighted. 


Michelle Wilson, WWE Chief Revenue and Marketing Officer, said that the sports and entertainment property has “taken a measured approach on VR,” saying that it boils down to how do you monetize the technology?


“Is there enough scale there for a real business model from a content creation perspective?” she said. “Certainly from a fan perspective I think if you ask any WWE fan if you can have the experience of being in the ring with John Cena, of course everyone wants that experience. … We certainly have our eye on it.”


Wilson illustrated two potential monetization strategies, one being including VR as an add-on to the pre-existing WWE Network in addition to sponsorship opportunities, citing what FOX has done with some of its virtual reality integrations.


On the panel titled The Success of Streaming: The New Media Model, Major League Baseball Advanced Media business executive Kenneth Gersh commented that virtual reality in particular is “where we see the future going once the devices get a little less cumbersome.”


“That’s probably where the next growth opportunity is for video content and live events,” he added.


Additionally, the NBA’s Senior Vice President of Digital Media Melissa Rosenthal-Brenner said mixed or augmented reality, where graphics and/or audio is overlaid on top of real-world experiences, is a “big opportunity” for the league, with current organizations like the Cleveland Cavaliers already leveraging the new technology.


“Whether it’s stats, knowing what players are on the court, knowing where the bathrooms are, the quickest way to the parking lot, fans can use their phone or another device as the lens to better access the NBA experience,” she said.

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