San Francisco, CA - August 21, 2016 - AT&T Park: Brandon Crawford (35) of the San Francisco Giants during a regular season Sunday Night Baseball game (Photo by Scott Clarke / ESPN Images)
Similar to 2016, the Giants will utilize their @Cafe social media hub, located behind the centerfield bleachers, to let fans test out exclusive 360-degree VR video content during home games.
According to Zeality, the Giants debuted the new VR fan experience at the team’s home opener April 10.
The VR company helped produce 360-degree video content that gave fans the chance to feel like they were inside a Bruce Bochy-led team meeting, up-close with shortstop Brandon Crawford while he swung the bat, or near pitcher Madison Bumgarner.
In a recent blog post by Zeality senior product leader Jaya Dhameja, she noted that prior to their time with the Giants @Cafe VR, over 60 percent of the users “had already experienced VR at least once before.” Since more than half of the fans had previously engaged with VR, the Giants want to see how they can give baseball fans at AT&T Park something they haven’t seen before.
Zeality currently works with the San Francisco 49ers and San Jose Sharks, and it is scheduled to partner with the Giants to help “rethink fan engagement and onsite activation for their 2017 season.”
Over the first month of the new partnership, Zeality and the Giants have worked towards improving the VR videos. The company surveyed participants after the home opener to gauge their level of enjoyment, as well as get feedback on how Zeality could tweak its VR to make it more fun.
The Giants hope their partnership allows them to slowly improve and create new immersive 360-degree video content for fans. One of the reasons that San Francisco chose to work with Zeality is because the company introduced its new Immersive Media Engine platform in February.
Zeality IME aims to help media-driven companies integrate VR and other 360-degree content into their current iOS and Android applications. The company claims that in roughly two weeks, it can help sports teams have 360-degree VR video solution up and running.
The VR company and its partners understand that for now, VR is a way to add to the fan experience. “We aren’t trying to replace watching and coming to the games with 360° video, more so give deeper immersion and a supplementary experience,” 49ers VP and executive producer Robert Alberino Jr. said.
According to the Zeality survey, 95 percent of the fans of said they wanted to watch VR content on their smartphones without a headset. This means that it likely won’t be long before Zeality and the Giants give fans the chance to watch the 360-degree video content in 2D.
The Giants also found that short and sweet, one to two minute videos work best, considering that the 360-degree, turn your head and body experience can be overwhelming. However, some fans showed interest in staying in the immersive VR headset environment for much longer.