NYC TV Week: VR Can Enliven ‘Dying’ Sports, Say Panelists

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Personalizing the VR experience is essential for VR’s increased role in sports, said panelists at the session Moving the Goal Post for VR and Sports. Making it unique for the user is key to making it special.

“Personalization is really important,” said Meredith Kinsman, digital strategist and group director at Octagon. “You’re not trying to lock someone into a headset.”

The panel happened at the Virtual Reality 20/20 panel at the Stewart Hotel in New York.

Dipak M. Patel, co-founder and CEO of Zeality, Inc., said VR is a key way to get the younger generation more involved in consuming sports. “Personalization is going to be a huge part of that,” he said.

Patel said several sports are “dying,” mentioning boxing and golf. “The challenge now is to make it relevant,” he added.

VR may be the thing that best brings millennials to the party. “It makes us feel like we’re closer, more a part of it,” said Vince Cacace, founder and CEO, Vertebrae. Consuming sports through a headset, he said, is “engaging and exciting.”

The panel was moderated by tech exec Joanna Popper, who mentioned how the Golden State Warriors put together a VR presentation when Kevin Durant was considering which ballclub to join. The Boston Celtics, for their part, sent Patriots QB Tom Brady to pitch Durant. The Warriors’ pitch worked.

“VR is more impactful than Tom Brady,” she quipped.

Kinsman said the NFL translates particularly well into VR. Hockey and tennis, not so much. She discussed the next iteration of the VR sports experience, including looking into a 360-degree viewing dome. “You’re in a sports bar,” she said, “but you are live on the field.”

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.