Using virtual technology like VR can redefine sports experience during and post-COVID-19.
The sports and gaming industry is expected to witness a huge transformation in 2020 and the outbreak of COVID-19 is playing a key role in this transition. Already, this sector has revolutionized the traditional entertainment market with online and mobile gaming platforms. Now, in the time of crisis induced by the COVID-19 outbreak, as people restricted to stay home and maintain social distancing to prevent the spread of the virus, they are looking for virtual technology solutions not only for their day to day work but also for gaming and entertainment. And virtual reality (VR) here is fulfilling their needs in very effective ways.
The demand of VR, augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) technology is seeing a tremendous spike as companies across industries are making business continuity a top priority. Similarly, the sports industry is making big strides toward these immersive technologies in order to bring back sports experience in nearly every possible field, from viewing sports events to training and recruiting athletes.
Experiencing Sports Events in VR
Many industry experts believe that virtual reality could provide fans with experiences that previously thought only possible at in-person events. According to Irwin Kisner, the executive chairman of Herrick Sports Law Group, who spoke at the 2020 CAA World Congress, the novel coronavirus outbreak may be the optimal time to capitalize on virtual reality. Even when sporting events resume, there is a chance fewer fans, or even no fans at all, will be permitted to attend games and matches. Because of this, technology could help replicate the in-game atmosphere for fans, he noted.
VR is not new in the sports industry as it already enabled fans of sports like cricket, football and baseball, among others to play games in a virtual world. But the wake of COVID-19 has accelerated the need of VR headsets, allowing them to experience a place without physically being there that can also be effective in reducing the spread of the virus.
For instance, after a shutdown due to the outbreak of COVID-19, the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) restarted on June 20. But, like other recently resumed sports leagues in the world, there was no audience at the venue. Thus, to let the audience watch game live, CBA teamed up with China Mobile’s Migu Video to broadcast the game live in VR. With this, the audience was able to either watch on their smartphones or with a special headset.
Meanwhile, there are numerous broadcasts and clubs that have already experimented with VR. Manchester City football club, for instance, gives football-watching experience to its fans with the new CityVR app. This app provides fans or supporters of the team with the opportunity to enjoy highlights from a selection of fixtures in VR. The launch of the CityVR app is part of the Club’s continued experiment with such software and follows a successful public trial in May 2015, when City, Sky Sports and app development collaborators LiveLike provides Blues the chance to witness a live Premier League match in virtual reality for the first time.
Moreover, coaches and players now can train better by watching and experiencing plays again and again in VR. STRIVR is one of the companies provide VR apps for games. The company builds VR training videos shot from the players’ eye view of the action during practices, and then allows them to receive realistic, repetitive training by visualizing using VR headsets.
Therefore, as virtual technology like VR has yet to demonstrate its full potential for gamers and sports fans, the sports industry is adapting to changing times to keep delivering enhanced sports experience.