A screenshot of the Telemundo VR suite.
Telemundo continues to set the stage to make its debut as the new Spanish-language TV home of the World Cup. The network is officially launching the Telemundo Deportes VR app and several other digital initiatives as it attempts to provide an unforgettable experience, particularly for Latino millennial soccer fans.
According to Telemundo specially commissioned research, there are 61 million soccer fans in the United States, it's the No. 1 sport among Hispanics and the average U.S. soccer fan is 10 years younger than the average sports fan. That's why the network has focused a lot of resources to create a comprehensive and innovative digital strategy for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
“It’s really the golden age of soccer in the US. It’s a perfect storm for the World Cup to be happening, recognizing the fact that soccer is the most multicultural and most millennial sport in the U.S. and that the audience over indexes so much in social media," says Peter E. Blacker, Telemundo's EVP of Digital and Emerging Business. "Digital and 360 opportunities in the World Cup are critical."
All matches will be live streamed on Telemundo Deportes En Vivo and the NBC Sports apps. But virtual reality will play a big role in Telemundo's coverage. For the first time ever, fans will be able to experience watching all 64 games via a virtual VIP suite through a super-wide angle feed and feel as if they are at the stadium in Russia. Two additional camera angles will provide a “closer look” at each game.
The Telemundo Deportes VR App is available to download.
"With the VR experience we can walk into a premiere box and when you look at the front of the virtual room, you’ll see the playing field. When you look left and right, you’ll see what's inside this sky box, like a TV, a bar, people sitting there. As the game is taking place, you can look at the game from different perspectives, or interact with different things inside that suite," explains Blacker. "We're putting fans in a unique position to view the game."
The app will also feature 360° content from the opening and closing ceremonies, as well as short-form video and near-live multi-angle clips of other behind-the-scenes action. The virtual reality experience will be available live during the game. Telemundo will then curate key moments for later VR viewing. Of course, fans will have to get VR headgear to take it all in.
"What’s really exciting is this really progressive view we’ve been able to take with FIFA to push the envelope and set a new standard on how to experience the World Cup." Blacker refers to Telemundo's ability to get FIFA to approve showing video of the games on new platforms. "One of the first things we did once we got the rights to have the World Cup was to lobby FIFA to expand the rights to really turn the experience from viewership into fan engagement and to take the game into places they’d never been before," he says.
Telemundo partnered with Gifnote to let soccer fans create customized musical GIFs.
"We originally signed up for official broadcasting rights, but they never contemplated a platform like YouTube. Four years ago, you could stream a game, but all viewing had to happen on the official owned and operated site of the company. It would mean all of the streaming had to happen on telemundo.com. We worked with FIFA to expand the viewing capacity to be able to have content on platforms like YouTube and doing things with Twitter."
Blacker points out Telemundo wanted to "create an Uber fan experience," especially for soccer fans who are "the most socially and digitally active fan you’re going to find in the U.S."
To that end, Telemundo today also announced three new partnerships: one with Gifnote.com that will give soccer fans access to customized real-time musical GIFs they'll be able to share via social media; another with Sportsmania for a new custom soccer emoji keyboard that features countries and other animations for its Telemundo Deportes En Vivo App; and with Universal Brand Development and TreasureHunt for the release of GOAL! SHOOTOUT on the Instant Games platform on Messenger and Facebook. The game will be available starting on June 14 and continue running during other soccer events throughout the year.
Additionally, an Interactive Bracket for the World Cup will be available on TelemundoDeportes.com, allowing users to participate in multiple game modes.
These digital initiatives and partnerships follow previously announced collaborations with Google, Designated Playerand COPA90.