VR in sports can offer a richer experience for fans and firms


Calvin Koh

Published: 4:00 AM, April 21, 2017

The Singapore Rugby Sevens was nothing short of amazing, but it was a shame that many rugby fans globally were unable to enjoy the events live and up close (Toll of HK Sevens gives underdogs advantage in S’pore; April 18).

Rugby fans in Hong Kong have enjoyed live coverage of the HK Sevens in virtual reality (VR), thanks to Ideal Systems and PCCW Global.

This immersive viewing experience is something that local broadcasters, tech companies and sports organisations should consider for future sports events.

Broadcasters must understand that their main profit driver — the sports audience — is hungry to get closer to the game and the action.

It is about being at the best seat in the stadium, courtside and the locker rooms, and having close-up views of their favourite players.

This is where VR plays a crucial role in providing that immersive experience.

VR technology could make sports viewing a more meaningful experience for those who want to be near the action but are unable to travel long distances or pay a hefty price to witness large sporting events.

Apart from consumers, it could open the door to new forms of brand exposure for companies, translating into new advertising and sponsorship channels for traditional broadcasters.

Plugged into a headset and immersed in the world of VR, audiences are also less distractible, which is the winning ingredient in today’s multiscreen world.

VR has been making the local news lately, but it has yet to manifest its full potential in sports.

As VR technology evolves at exponential speed, it would be interesting to see how it changes the game, literally and metaphorically, for the next few Rugby Sevens tournaments.