Watching sports is an immensely popular pastime. It’s a hobby that many people from all walks of life can get around. However, if you ever want to watch a sport in person, it gets complicated. Even without travelling expenses, attending sporting events can be incredibly costly. Attending a game of the English Premier League, for example, could cost hundreds of dollars for a Singaporean. Even eSports has become a big-ticket event, especially for major tournaments such as The International. This is why VR could potentially be the next big thing for sports fans. You get the benefit of watching a game as if you were there, without forking out ridiculous sums of money. Here are just a few examples of sports that have already experimented with VR viewership. Should VR begin picking up, expect to see these offered shortly. Most of these experiences come from one company, NextVR.
You would think that the popularity of the sport might have died down in recent years, but this is one of most profitable sports in the world. Floyd Mayweather, who retired a few years ago, drew in a massive S$557million when he fought rival Manny Pacquiao on pay-per-view. Now, being able to watch boxing is already a premium service, so what if you got that extra bit to make it unique? Ringside seats to get into the heart of the action without paying ridiculous sums of money. Early tests have shown that it is a lot of fun.
This is the soccer kind of football, otherwise known as the most watched sport around the world. Singaporeans especially are massive fans. I already mentioned that watching the EPL in VR might be an attraction, and it has already happened. Granted this was for the European Championships, and if it only happened every two years it would not be worth the investment. However, this could be on the table down the future. Engadget has already reported that streaming startup Virtually Live is in the process of getting licenses to show live games.
Basketball has already been streamed in VR as early as last year. As it was an early test, the experience appears to have been slightly unpolished, but every first iteration is. Once the kinks have been ironed out, VR would make Basketball even more exciting to watch. Watching in VR would be especially appealing, just like football, to those who want to experience attending a high-end professional game in person but can’t afford the time and money to travel for it. Then, the only issue would be the time difference for international games, but it’s not like Singapore hasn’t been used to this problem.
While some would question it’s legitimacy as a sport, you can’t deny that eSports have become massive the last few years. The last International, the big DOTA tournament, attracted hundreds of thousands of viewers, both through online streaming and on traditional media coverage. Even more exciting was the introduction of VR coverage this year. Techcrunch has covered just one company offering VR coverage, Silver.TV. Considering gamers are still the biggest adopters of VR technology, this might be the sport with the largest VR coverage. Again, if you consider eSports an actual sport.
Surprisingly enough, chess has been chosen for VR coverage. Unlike other sports, which would help you get close to the action, VR would be used differently. Tactics, analysis and predictions could add to the viewing experience. That or maybe getting a ‘rooks-eye-view’ of the board would be a lot of fun.