Meta experiences: Streaming

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19 Apr 2022
211

Meta experiences: Streaming


I’m into my first month of using my Oculus Quest 2 and, weird enough, the top things I have done were related to streaming, first being YouTube VR and the second is Netflix. It might be the power of habit but the immersive experience has really been a very strong hook. After what I’ve experienced lately on these two platforms, I can tell that there is a massive opportunity that lies in meta-live events, and specifically in the live sports section.The big switch
The first thing I bought with my first adult salary was a 45-inch HD TV and we can all agree that there is no such thing as a TV that’s too big! As part of my morning routine, I usually catch up on the sports highlights that I had to miss the earlier night (I live in Singapore, the time difference for watching the Champions League or NBA is a killer). Ever since I got my VR set, I got hooked on watching all the highlights on the Youtube VR app; I’m barely using YouTube on my phone anymore. There, I can choose the screen size and I can even make the screen curved! We all remember a decade ago when IMAX / EMAX movie theatre became a huge thing… now I have a similar experience right in my room.

Live Sports Entertainment…Meta level
During the pandemic, some organisations were finding some innovative ways to keep fans and players connected and motivated while playing during tough times. Some clubs printed their fans’ pictures on seats (cute gesture) while others (like the NBA) took a more innovative approach and used Microsoft Teams combined with a 17-foot tall LED screen that goes around the basketball arena enabling fans to react in real time to the game and enabling players to see and hear those reactions. But at the end of the day, fans were still stuck in front of a 13-inch Laptop screen.
Usage of Microsoft Teams during an NBA game for Fans to come and cheer their teams in the midst of Covid-19 (https://qz.com/1891805/how-the-nba-is-using-virtual-fans-to-make-games-feel-normal/)
As a Real Madrid fan, I have always dreamt of going to the Santiago Bernabeu stadium to watch a live football (I refuse to call it soccer!) match. Unfortunately, I don’t live in Madrid (yet). While watching the games on television on high resolution is great, just picture being able to experience a game differently:

  1. Open your meta sports booking app on your VR Headset.
  2. Filter any sport, choose the game of interest and simply reserve a seat in the stadium for the game you want to watch.
  3. Get seated and be ready for a 360-degree view of the game.
  4. Be right in the middle of the action, hear fans chanting, booing & celebrating next to you. Better yet, get your voice heard alongside thousands of fans by turning your mic on.
  5. Decide whether to have commentary (on/off) as well as your preferred language.
  6. Be in full control of replays of your favourite moments of the game.

The same thing can be easily applied to any other sport.
Formula 1: imagine being able to watch an F1 race while being in Max Verstappen or Lewis Hamilton’s seat, be there in the moment with your favourite driver and switch as you see fit during the race.

A view from Max Verstappen’s RedBull F1 Car with Lewis Hamilton’s car right ahead right before a crash (https://www.racefans.net/2021/11/16/f1-releases-missing-video-footage-from-verstappens-car-of-hamilton-incident/)
UFC: get a seat in the arena, watch the action live in front of you and feel the intensity across.
Golf: well, I don’t think Meta can make Golf exciting for me… :)

In summary, VR headsets will enable us to instantly switch from “watching” to “experiencing” sports or any event in a novel, exciting way, all from the comfort of our own home. The adrenaline rush does take on another whole level.

Let’s get down to business
All of these examples can provide a new revenue stream of value added services (VAS) on top of the monthly sports bundle a network charges. The opportunity here is massive as clubs can tap into a massive fanbase that isn’t able to travel to show support or simply can’t afford buying a ticket.
The cost savings from a fan’s standpoint is a no-brainer. Getting a chance to experience what goes on in a stadium is unparalleled. All a user has to do is put on a headset and pay the event fee versus having to incur the cost of travel, tickets, accommodation and food which can add up to a hefty sum. The feeling of almost being in a stadium is “priceless” and the fact that any fee incurred to attend meta-events can be a fraction of the actual cost is something that is worth paying for to get that front seat of the action. I would be able to say I was a̶c̶t̶u̶a̶l̶l̶y̶ virtually there in the stadium when this happened (rather than saying, I watched it on TV).

Seats prices will be differentiated depending on how close you want to get to the action. For example, for a top ticket, you or your avatar can actually sit on the bench with the coach and players. Clubs can also add on the ability for users to go visit the official club store for some match-day merchandise and anything you purchase gets shipped to your doorstep in 24 days…Amazon Prime to the rescue!

From a sports club management standpoint, this is also a no-brainer. You’re not actually using anyone else’s space. Clubs can now explore alternatives to investing massive amounts on renovations and stadiums expansions just to increase seating capacity by 20–25%. Instead they can focus their investments on providing a complete and fulfilling experience for a virtual fanbase. In the blink of an eye, their live attendance (both in person and meta attendance) can go up by 1,000 fold. This is what is called exponential returns.

What’s in it for the streaming giants?
A Netflix example: Don’t just watch “Emily in Paris” but be with Emily in Paris… Roam the Champs-Élysées and be in the middle of fashion shows with her. (And, yes I was forced to watch the first episode then I got hooked; there is no turning back now.)
Disney+ example: For anyone that is feeling a bit courageous, you may be immersed in a Walking Dead episode or join the Avengers on their next mission to save the world and destroy New York or Hong Kong again while you’re at it.

Immersive content would become the next premium upgrade to your streaming subscription. Netflix seems to need that extra revenue judging by its last quarter earnings results…

A rosy picture, but…
To be realistic, we all like to enjoy and share these type of events in groups. Nothing will ever beat actually being physically in the moment, hanging out with friends or celebrating a goal with total strangers. The above will only serve as an alternative for people that can’t experience this every single time. The rest of the family will be happy not to be stuck watching sports every weekend — the motto needs to change from “Dad is king of the remote” to “Dad is the king of the VR headset.” Win-win situation.

Current VR sets already support Netflix and Youtube apps. Experiencing sports highlights or catching up on series is already an option. However, VR sets need to become more mainstream coupled with an increase in VR content creators for us to really see some truly great work. For now, people who fear roller coasters can get a taste of that experience, from the safety of their couch.

In summary, meta-experience is truly immersive. For people who always wanted a huge TV screen: save that money, put on that tiny (and slightly heavy) VR set and immerse yourself in your favourite TV show or live sport on a massive screen. Enjoy a home theatre right on your couch — just sit back, relax and enjoy the show!

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20 Comments

B
pb0199
This a really interesting read! Imagine watching a NBA game live as if you're in MSG from the comfort of your own home. The future of VR is one I look forward to!
Minted Millennials
I think Meta experiences will be a different way to experience sporting events. However, I don't think they will be better. There is something special about attending a sporting event for me that would be hard to replicate in the Metaverse. Although I am also pumped for these experiences too!
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