Fantasy Football and VR: The Perfect Marriage
Creating the perfect VR ecosystem for fantasy football fans
Imagine watching the New England Patriots in the postseason while viewing a 3D rendering of Gillette Stadium. Or you could be watching from your back porch or in your dining room. You could even take Tom Brady and co in the bathroom if you need to freshen up. That isn’t as weird as it sounds. You simply need to reach out for the stadium, shrink it, carry it in your palm to whoever you’re going and spread it out.
While you’re doing that, spin your hands around to give yourself a different camera angle. Or see fantasy stat updates in the vanity mirror by using your finger.
This scenario isn’t ripped off from an episode of Star Trek. It’s fantasy football of the future. It isn’t even the distant future. It’s the short-term future when Tom Brady still may be playing in the Super Bowl each year.
To experience this, you’ll need to be wearing the latest augmented and virtual reality glasses. The NFL’s broadcasting partners will stream 360-degree HD video and/or modeled digitized renderings into your home.
You’re in control
It’s your decision whether to hover over a QB’s shoulders or watch the game from the 20-yard-line. Essentially, you control how you watch. And it won’t be long before you’ll have the opportunity to do so, either.
VR is making its presence felt in other industries, too. Earlier this year, Plex announced that it was launching a new VR app that enables users to view TV shows and movies in VR. Users have the choice of three virtual environments: a drive-in theatre, a deep space scene, or a luxury apartment. VR is also making an impact in casino games, with virtual reality slots taking over. The first game given the VR treatment was Starburst from NetEnt. We’ve seen a number of titles converted since then, including Jack and the Beanstalk, also from NetEnt.
More than a headset
Max Cohen is the VP is mobile technologies at tech company Oculus. He also assumes the role of commissioner for a fantasy football league. So he has experience of both worlds. Fantasy football isn’t entirely different from VR, in fact. It’s a way to enjoy the game that isn’t really real, yet can feel so when your best fantasy wideout returns an interception for the game-winning touchdown.
Oculus may be famous for its headsets but Cohen insists that it’s about much more than that. He said that the company is in the business of ecosystems. He described the ecosystem as a combination of production companies, camera manufacturers, streaming platforms, software developers, and hardware providers, along with anything else required for commuters to experience VR.
One company that’s integral to this ecosystem when it comes to VR and fantasy football is STRIVR. The company develops 3D virtual training simulators for NCAA and NFL teams. It also creates experiences for sports fans, such as allowing them to play in goal for the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
What everyone in the ecosystem is trying to ensure is that VR doesn’t become too expensive. That’s why Fox Sports’ senior vice president of field and technical operations Michael Davies is working with the Fox Sports Lab on creating high-quality content before most homes can even receive it.
Overlaying your broadcast
Fox’s production partner in virtual reality is NextVR. NextVR both produces and supplies content. When the NFL sampled VR for Super Bowl 50, it used NextVR’s technology. The company supplies production equipment and cameras to Fox. The cameras are only small so are capable of overlying a VR broadcast over a televisions broadcast without the gear getting in the way of the sidelines. That’s been an issue with previous 3D sports broadcasts.
Above and beyond
One company that is trying to progress VR is EON Sports. The firm is capable of doing the majority of things that other VR providers can do, whether streaming game highlights or creating local stadium experiences. EON Sports CEO Brendan Reilly, however, is looking beyond such applications, and towards digitizing the real world completely. He envisions sending all that data to a smartphone in real time and enabling the user to use those images to do whatever they want.
If you think that access to fully immersive 360-degree content comes with a catch, think again. NetVR has the trucks, cameras, and apps. STRIVR has the know-how when it comes to storytelling. EON has the vision, Fox holds the rights. Oculus provides the entire ecosystem. Tech companies from Google to Samsung have launched inexpensive devices for you to wear on your head. It seems that all these companies work well together, so there shouldn’t be any problems concerning incompatibility. It seems as though VR is indeed coming to a fantasy football league near you.