First Ever Football (Soccer) Game Is Live-Streamed in Virtual Reality

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a1One area which analysts expect huge growth within the virtual reality space is that of sporting events.  In the not-too-distant future it’s very likely that any one of us with a VR headset will be able to choose from a number of available seats within a particular sporting venue and watch a game live as if we were sitting in those exact seats.  The best part of it all is that such an event would be free, or very cheap when compared to actually purchasing those tickets yourself.  While we aren’t there quite yet, one French TV channel, TF1, recently teamed with Viaccess-Orca, an expert in the protection and enhancement of content services, to broadcast what they claim to be the world’s very first 360-degree live-stream of a football game.

The event, which was a game between Russia and France, took place last week, on March 29.  Only a select handful of fans were able to watch, as this was only an initial test of their VR technology, but a recording of the game in virtual reality will be available to those who attend Viaccess-Orca’s booth at the 2016 NAB Show.

“Viaccess-Orca and TF1 are ushering in a new era for sports entertainment. At the event, our audience experienced an actual stadium ambiance, feeling immersed in the game. This was made possible by our best-of-breed, end-to-end solution for streaming of 360-degree video,” said Alain Nochimowski, Executive Vice President of Innovation at Viaccess-Orca. “Pre-integrated with an ecosystem of technology partners and compatible with existing industry standards, Viaccess-Orca’s ‘Virtual Arena’ offers a premium 360-degree television experience for the emerging VR environment. We are thrilled that, together with TF1 and our technology partners, we are shaping the future of television and paving the way to the ultimate immersion quality and viewer engagement experience.”

While we don’t know yet the exact plans that TF1 and Viaccess-Orca have for rolling this system out to the masses, the general feedback for this system has been very positive in the early going.  Combining live 360-degree video, with advanced sound, and software to stitch everything together, the almost-seamless experience should give traditional television a run for its money.

“At TF1, we work every day to prepare the future of TV and develop new immersive experiences for our audience,” Olivier Abecassis, Chief Digital Officer at TF1 Group said. “This is the reason why we are very happy to be the first TV channel to experiment with the live stream of a football match in 360 degrees in Ultra HD with our partner Viaccess-Orca.”

Now I’m just waiting to watch the next Super Bowl from the 50-yard line in fully immersive VR.  Hopefully that’ll be available sooner rather than later.  Let’s hear your thoughts on this story in the Live-streaming VR Sports forum on VRTalk.com.