The recently-completed International Champions Cup (ICC) was the most successful in its five year history. For the second year in a row, NextVR brought live and on-demand games in virtual reality (VR) to soccer fans around the world. The highlight of the tournament was the the first el Clásico to be experienced in VR featuring Real Madrid against Barcelona.
World Soccer Talk was given access and a tour of NextVR’s setup for el Clásico Miami on the day of the match. NextVR mixed 12 cameras with 2 views each (left and right) and 24 audio channels to create a seamless, virtual reality experience. The viewer has a full 180 degree view of the stadium and field of play. Using the VR headset, the person watching the match can turn toward various angles and see crowd shots or action off the ball in real time. NextVR typically uses eight cameras for its NBA broadcasts but the increased size and scope of the ICC necessitated the larger number of cameras for this competition.
Plus, when wearing the VR headset, you can turn around behind you to see in-depth statistics and other helpful game information.
NextVR bills itself as the world’s leading virtual reality platform for delivering live sports and music in virtual reality to fans globally. Launched in 2009, the company has multiple patented technologies that deliver an unparalleled virtual reality experience, providing fans a unique experience. NextVR has partnerships with leaders in sports including the NFL, NBA, FOX Sports, Live Nation, and the International Champions Cup.
On the day of each match, NextVR typically lays its own cable lines and infrastructure at stadiums. But the recently renovated Hard Rock Stadium proved an exception to this general rule as the infrastructure and cable lines to provide direct IP access to NextVR’s production truck outside the stadium was satisfactory enough to avoid laying new lines. Typically, NextVR rolls into a venue on the day of the game in the early hours, and builds the appropriate infrastructure to deliver viewers an immersive VR experience.
Given the scope of the el Clásico Miami telecast that featured Mark Rogondino, Monica Gonzalez and Heath Pearce on commentary, NextVR brought its team to town a day early, setting up Friday morning for a Saturday broadcast. The NextVR operation is nimble and resourceful, utilizing a full truck of production crew members who are experts at broadcasting events in VR.
A unique aspect of the NextVR broadcast was the absence of a seven second delay which is typical in live, major sporting events. Since the concept is “virtual reality,” NextVR wants the viewer to feel like a fan at the match as if they’re there without it feeling like they’re watching a typical TV broadcast.
NextVR provided match highlights for ten US-based ICC matches as well as live coverage of the el Clásico in addition to a full tournament highlights wrap-up show.
To watch soccer matches in virtual reality from NextVR, you’ll need an Android or iPhone phone as well as a VR headset such as Samsung Gear or a cardboard viewer. Then use the Oculus app to find NextVR’s International Champions Cup games.
Watching soccer in virtual reality is the next logical step forward for the sport in terms of broadcasting quality. As the availability of virtual reality headsets increase, providers like NextVR can be expected to continue to push into the world of soccer broadcasting. The el Clásico Miami broadcast could prove a springboard for more virtual reality telecasts of the sport in the near future.