FOX Sports will broadcast the Big Ten Football Championship live in virtual reality — a first for a college football conference title game — on Saturday night from Lucas Oil Stadium.
In partnership with LiveLike, a virtual reality company that has partnered with FOX for two similar college football games this season, FOX is continuing its experiment with providing unique content through the new medium.
From its first game in mid-September between Ohio State and Oklahoma, where it received about 37,000 viewers, there has been technical improvements along with additional interactive elements in the “virtual suite,” minor upgrades in video quality and a repositioning of camera angles. A consensus from LiveLike and FOX is that a new sideline cart following the first game is the best camera angle for getting a close-up shot of the action.
“Having a seat in the stadium that moves with the line of scrimmage is something no one else can get,” said Andre Lorenceau, CEO and Founder of LiveLike, who admittedly told SportTechie he was “unsure that it was going work” at first.
According to Michael Davies, FOX Sports SVP Field and Technical Operations, the new camera angle gave fans an opportunity to come down from the rafters of the 50-yard line “virtual suite” or move closer from the goal posts.
“The sideline cart is sort of an unwritten camera mount for VR,” he said. “It makes it a fairly good viewpoint for virtual reality.”
Both Lorenceau and Davies said that there would be minimal new features on Saturday beyond what is currently available, which includes real-time statistics, live television commentary feed and a view of the linear broadcast, among other options. Like the previous two broadcasts, the experience will be available via 360-degree video on iOS and Android through the FOX Sports Go app while fans can have a fully immersive experience with a Gear VR headset or cardboard.
For Saturday, FOX Sports has partnered with GoPro to show the referees’ point-of-view during the Big Ten Football Championship, a first-of-its-kind integration as well. Footage will be clipped and shared on-air as well as socially. Through the FOX Sports GO app, fans will also be able to access a continuous stream of referees’ footage if they want to remain connected to the first-person perspective.
“It’s in our FOX Sports DNA to constantly challenge our team to come up with new and interesting ways to enhance the viewing experience, bring fans closer to the action and make the story of sports even more compelling … this project with GoPro accomplishes all of that,” Davies said in a statement.