Live sports in VR: Is this what the future looks like?
Sitting on the couch in your living room and yet watching the game courtside? That's already possible in VR.
Meta extended its partnership with the NBA in early 2023. As a result, fans can watch a total of 52 games of the NBA season live and free of charge in Meta's social VR world Horizon Worlds— five of them as immersive, monoscopic 180-degree videos.
In VR and yet right on the court
A new Twitter video that Sean D. Emory attributes to Marc Zuckerberg gives an example of what it's like.
The video shows the view through the Meta Quest Pro XR headset. First, a physical environment can be seen, then the perspective changes to virtual reality to an NBA game. Zuckerberg is courtside and can look around naturally by moving his head — as if he were there.
Immersive sports broadcasts in VR
The experience is different from traditional VR broadcasts, which allow viewing from different perspectives but are rigid in view and, therefore, less immersive.
This new way of watching, right beside the action, could take sports broadcast events to a new level. In Formula 1 races, fans could sit at the edge of the track, even though they are actually in their living rooms at home, and in boxing matches, they would be closer to the opponents than the on-site spectators.
This is already partially possible on Meta's Xtadium sports streaming platform. Among other things, there have been 180-degree live streams of NASCAR races and the All American Cup tennis tournament. So far, however, access has been reserved for fans in the USA.
It is not yet known when and if Xtadium will also be launched in other countries. The same still applies to Horizon Worlds, which is suffering from poor user numbers.
VR as the event platform of the future?
Virtual reality has established itself as a platform for immersive VR games, but live events are also playing an increasingly important role, and even some concerts are held in VR.
Recent examples include Megan Thee Stallion with Enter Thee Hottieverse, and there's even more on the way from AmazeVR. VR headset manufacturer Pico recently brought well-known live DJs into virtual reality, and an entire music festival took place on the social VR platform Rec Room.