Watching you favourite sports team play in virtual reality, sitting on the front row without having to leave your sofa… sounds like fiction? Well, it might be here faster than you think. In fact, it’s already happening as we speak. During the Rio Olympics of 2016, Samsung and NBC teamed up to broadcast more than 100 hours of VR programming, including the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, the men’s basketball final, gymnastics, track and field, beach volleyball, diving, boxing and fencing. And since the start of this season, the NBA is broadcasting one game a week in VR, making it the first American professional sports association to use the VR technology on a regular basis.
All you have to do to step into the VR world, is put on your goggles or helmet, and you’re transported right into the action. With VR technology improving fast, it seems only a matter of time before every game can be watched in high definition VR.
Virtual vs social
But it’s not just because technology makes it possible, that VR will be the standard for watching sports. More than any other thing we see on tv, watching a sports game is primarily a social experience. The fun in watching a football or basketball game, it doing it together with some friends. Getting carried away in a victory, losing your temper because your team is losing or looking at each other in disbelief when the referee is making another bad call… When everyone is forced to put a big VR helmet on, a lot of the social aspect about watching a game is lost. So the question is: can technology make up for this? Is the spectacular viewing experience that VR has to offer, worth the isolation? We know for a fact that a sports game in VR is going to look absolutely stunning in the years to come. What we don’t know, is whether or not we’ll be willing to give it a try.