We’ve seen sports being broadcast in virtual reality, and it has grown in popularity over the last year or so.
The NCAA Tournament has been broadcast in its entirety the past two years. NBA games are broadcast in virtual reality each week, and its popularity is growing immensely. NFL games are also regularly produced in 360-degree video. As of late, even the MLB has joined the movement, implementing the technology in several live games this season and last season.
But none of the previous broadcasts came close to the experience a select few got to experience during Super Bowl LII between the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles. 20 individuals, to be exact.
It started as a project back in November, where Verizon Wireless placed two 4K virtual reality cameras in Minnesota’s U.S. Bank Stadium to test the equipment and connectivity to see if the massive Super Bowl event could handle it with how many people would be in attendance. It thrived, so they ran with it.
The end product? A virtual reality broadcast of Super Bowl LII in unreleased/exclusive 5G connection on 4K cameras.
Never been done before. No one else has this technology, but these 20 individuals got to test it out before everyone else. The testing took place in New York City at the official Verizon Wireless headquarters. They had to take turns with the equipment in a “stress test” to see just how much this technology could handle in the biggest stage, and it passed with flying colors. It was inconvenient with limited equipment to start with, but it became clear this was the future of sports virtual reality.
They got to see the event in crystal-clear video and audio quality, no lag, no connectivity issues, nothing. They got a better look at the Super Bowl than the 67,000 people that paid money to be in the stadium, and the 103 million television viewers across the nation. They got the best of both worlds as a sports fan.
And it wasn’t even some ridiculous headset/equipment that costs a couple thousand dollars. All they used was a single Google Daydream headset equipped with a Samsung Galaxy S8. That’s it. Incredible quality for the cost just about anyone can afford. Again, this is the future.
The in-your-face experience a fan in the stadium gets, from the comfort of your own home. Not the poor quality we see with some other virtual reality technologies/production, or even the “decent” quality we see from some of the other major productions being released. This was a full head above the competition.
The two cameras were called BlackMagic 4K URSA, and in order to handle the 5G technology, they had to use 800MHz bandwidth on Verizon’s 28GHz millimeter wave spectrum. It allowed for an on-field experience, as well as a fan/stadium atmosphere experience. However you wanted to watch the Super Bowl, you were able to.
Obviously this won’t replace fan participation at live sporting events, but for those struggling financially or simply like the home experience more, the technology is there for absolutely incredible virtual reality from the comfort of your own living room at a low cost.