Virtual reality has been experiencing a mind-blowing adoption rate across various industries, one of which is entertainment, where it transforms how people consume everything from video games to films, music, and even live sports coverage.
Recently, using virtual reality to watch sports has caught on among sports fans and enthusiasts everywhere, and we tell you where to find the best action!
Let’s kick things off!
Why Watch Sports in Virtual Reality?
The best part about watching sports in VR is that it offers an immersive experience by transporting you to the venue of the event in real-time. In essence, you are part of the spectacle, even though you are comfortably situated on your sofa.
Additionally, an increasing number of streams are offering 360-degree streams, and those that don’t have that feature yet still provide a decent 180-degree image. Either way, you have the freedom to choose your preferred viewing angle.
Also, you can teleport to different locations around the stadium: in the main stands, courtside, and behind the team, all of which give you a unique experience of the action that is exciting, immersive, engaging, and, best of all: customisable.
Most apps even allow you to look up past player or team data, analyse live statistics, track player positions, and engage with other VR viewers. Recent reviews show that this social aspect is one of the biggest benefits of VR technology in sports.
So, you see, you don’t have to go through the hassle of paying for and going to the game in person with your friends; you can still interact and emulate the experience straight from your living room. Best of all: the snacks are so much cheaper!
8 Ways to Watch Live Sports in Virtual Reality
While mixing VR with live sports isn’t something new (NBA launched this craze in late 2015), it wasn’t until recently that the technology matured enough to offer high-quality streams for a variety of sports. That said, check out eight ways to watch VR sports below.
1. Exclusive Sports VR Apps
Several companies develop and publish sports VR apps, including Meta Quest with XTADIUM, NextVR, and Fox Sports VR, all of which promise to immerse you straight into the action, with some offering high-definition 180-degree streams and a host of features.
However, to use these apps, you will need a VR platform that supports them, such as the Quest 2 or the Quest Pro. Then, you’ll install the relevant app, set up your profile, and enjoy every sport they have to offer. For instance, XTADIUM launched in late 2022 with various sports streams, ranging from NASCAR to UFC and European basketball.
2. Smartphone Apps
In addition to the exclusive applications listed above, sports app developers have created many other Android and iOS apps that you can launch straight from your phone. While convenient to download and install such apps, note that most apps will require you to plug in a VR headset to enjoy their content, although some can be viewed on your smartphone screen.
3. Web Browser
Some sports platforms also offer their live coverage straight from a web browser. You just need a web browser and a service that can handle VR content well (if necessary). YouTube’s VR channel is a prime example of how 360-degree VR videos should look.
Note: While you don’t need a VR headset to stream such content on the web, many headsets come with their own browser, which you can use to access the same videos.
4. TV Casting
You can also cast what you see on your VR headset onto the TV so everyone around you can join in the fun, even if they may not have headsets. Doing so is super easy as well. For instance, if you have the Meta Quest 2, you only need the app and a compatible TV. Then, just navigate to the corresponding menu and turn on the headset casting option.
5. Sports Leagues VR Apps
The biggest sports leagues in the world also have their own VR platforms. For instance, NBA fans in the U.S. can access a select number of live NBA games in a VR setting straight through their Meta Quest headsets. However, they first need to get the NBA League Pass. Then, they have to visit the NBA Arena in Meta Horizon Worlds to watch the games live.
6. Virtual Reality Lounges
With the advent of virtual reality, VR developers started offering different kinds of content via so-called VR lounges, where players can enjoy everything from painting to dancing. One such activity is watching sports. You just have to find the right VR room for sports fans to hang out with each other to watch the latest football, basketball, or tennis match.
7. VR Live Streaming Services
Virtual reality video streaming from regular users is also a trending technology in recent years. Therefore, as time passes, you may come across more live VR streams on your favourite streaming platforms, from Facebook to YouTube and Twitch.
8. Virtual Reality Sports Betting
Where there’s business, there’s the will to implement technology to alleviate the hurdles faced by regular consumers to increase profits. One such industry is the sports betting market, which generates massive profits yearly and is in need of innovations.
Well, betting companies have started using VR to create virtual betting shops and bring live sports to bettors everywhere to make betting much more exciting.
Watching live sports in virtual reality is a trend catching on in leaps and bounds these last few years since this new generation of fans finds tremendous value in its interactive, informational, and immersive experience. Also, current predictions outline an increasing adoption in the near future driven by advancements in display and streaming technologies.