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VR 20/20: Social, Stats Will Drive Sports VR Adoption

New York—Getting sports fans to slap on a virtual reality headset to watch their favorite teams battle it out on the pitch, the diamond or the gridiron for hours at a stretch will involve more than just fancy camera angles, according to a panel discussion Monday. To get viewers to make the VR commitment, content providers will have to provide a compelling social and statistical experience as well.

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“There are two really big hurdles that this is going to have to overcome,” said STRIVR head of sports training Andrew Wasserman at the Virtual Reality 20/20 conference Monday, part of NYC Television and Video Week. “One is that that 2-D broadcast is a really good experience. The second obstacle is the social [aspect] of watching sports. It’s not that common that I’m sitting alone watching a game. When you’re on a headset, you’re on your own.”

Fox Sports senior VP of digital media Devin Poolman said initially, VR may be more of an immersive companion technology, giving viewers the opportunity to go back to watch a particular play, through a “magic window” on their phones.  

“There are use cases that will get us there,” Poolman said. “It becomes a really compelling companion experience that is more like what’s been alluded to with in-car cameras, to be able to jump in and see different perspectives throughout the game. I think we’re maybe going to see this as a second screen experience that ultimately replaces the broadcast.”

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