The ways in which we are able to follow sports have evolved over the years. Radio was the connection between sports and the fans for many years, especially with baseball. The advent of television added a more powerful transmission system. Enhancements like color, HD, and large-sized flatscreens added to the appeal. The internet, cell phones, and IPads have added to the platform. The next breakthroughs are coming with virtual and augmented reality which will add to the enjoyment.
Compared to yesterday, entertainment technology and the advancements created for fans to get the inside scoop has exploded. A few months later Google revealed Google Cardboard to start the mobile VR boom. This led to Fox Sports, ESPN, NBC, CBS, ABC, YouTube TV, Hulu, Sky Sports and many more outlets allowing users to connect on your TV, cell phone, iPad, Apple watch and now through virtual reality headsets. Data provided by statista.com has projected VR revenue for 2018 is $9.1 billion and in the year 2022 $61 billion in XR revenue. Goldman Sachs has projected that the VR market will outpace the television market in annual revenue by 2025.
The challenge for virtual reality is to create new ways in which sports can be enjoyed. Television innovated minicams, skycams, superimposed first down markers and wiring of coaches are ways to enhance football. The Los Angeles Rams utilized VR technology to allow potential season ticket buyers to see the unbuilt stadium and sidelines, and what the view would be from their potential seat location. In our effort to save the Rams back in 1994, we advocated the construction of a sports town that would have sports-related augmented and virtual reality rides which would allow the fans to interact with various sports in new and exciting ways.
To better understand how this technology will be utilized moving forward, I reached out to industry leader Travis Cloyd, co-founder of Sports Tech Media, which creates customized XR (AR, VR & MR) technologies, he shared an enlightening perspective and vantage point on the future of sports media. Travis previously created cinematic award-winning VR experiences with many legendary Hollywood actors like John Travolta and Nicolas Cage, and he is at the forefront of bringing together Hollywood and Silicon Valley. I asked him how he envisioned the future of VR in sports and his response was, "“The possibilities are endless with immersive technology like virtual and augmented reality.
Through VR you can teleport yourself onto the sideline of a game or put on a haptic suit and rush outside the pocket trying to avoid a defensive lineman coming at you. In AR you can scan a team’s logo or brand sponsor and bring a custom animated message to life. These mediums are advancing every day allowing us the ability to build the ultimate fan experience. In the near future, we will purchase products in real-time as we watch live events through VR. Today, we are becoming smarter as an audience and so we’ve advanced our appetite. We strive to be closer to the action and in many cases be apart of it, but we simply can’t. This is the first time in history when sports technology gives us the edge not only in training, or observation but also in fan engagement.”
There is a race occurring to see which networks, teams, stadia, and arenas can be at the forefront of this industry. Anything which enhances fan experience is here to stay.