VR in sports: definitely not a fad

Carlo De Marchis, chief product and marketing officer at Deltatre, analyses the enduring impact of VR in sports and looks at how it will be used in the future.

by Guest Contributor
VR in sports: definitely not a fad

It did not require Zuckerberg announcing augmented reality (AR) as “act two of Facebook” to forecast that most of this year’s National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Show would focus on any form of augmented, virtual and mixed reality.

The situation is pretty clear: in this run to deploy the first ever virtual reality experience in more and more fields of application, the numbers for the immediate future are still quite low.

In a recent report, market research firm Greenlight Insights forecast the total virtual reality revenues to hit $7.2 billion by the end of the year.

The mid-term projection tells quite a different story though, with global revenue estimated to reach $74.8 billion by 2021: even more optimistic than Goldman Sachs’ estimate of $80 billion industry revenue by 2025, accompanied by the bold statement that VR will have outpaced TV by then.

What about VR in sports?
The situation of virtual reality (VR) production in the sports industry pretty much reflects the overall short and mid-term forecasts.

The technology is ready and it’s getting better month-in, month-out. Any player in the sport media business has already deployed VR experiences, from clubs to federations to sports broadcasters, but such a disruptive viewing experience still needs to penetrate among fans. If we look at a not-too-distant future, we can see how virtual reality can totally reshape the fans’ habits when it comes to watching sporting events, consequently affecting the sport media business from many different perspectives.

We at Deltatre have been testing VR production for more than a year now, covering about 60 events in three competitions.
Focusing on live and near-live immersive experiences only, we have already faced the challenges of producing relevant content in two different sports, with the main goal to avoid trivialising the technology for technology sake.
Covering all the phases of the process, we have been able to reach our desired standard of consistency in the product: the concept and editorial guide production and operations to deliver fans front-end VR apps that convey a sport-tailored immersive experience.

Thanks to this end-to-end approach and to our partnership with Nokia and LiveLike, we plan to go to the market with full-service VR solutions in the most relevant football tournaments starting next season.

It is in its early days for sure and it’s not easy to understand how fast VR in sports will grow. One thing we know for sure: it’s not a fad. VR in sports is real.