And you don’t even need a VR headset.
What could be better than watching a college football matchup between two of the nation’s best teams? How about watching it in virtual reality!
Okay, so that may not appeal to everyone who plans to tune in when the #3 Ohio State Buckeyes take on the #14 Oklahoma Sooners in Norman, Okla., Saturday night. But for those interested, Fox has you covered.
Fox Sports will stream the game live in virtual reality as part of a new deal with LiveLike, a VR streaming startup which built an app for Fox that lets users “sit” in different seats around the stadium during the game.
You can watch the game on a headset, like the Gear VR or Google cardboard, but you can also watch it straight from a smartphone, sans headset. A headset-less experience may not sound like true VR to industry enthusiasts, but it also removes a huge barrier for those who might want to check out VR for the first time but haven’t sprung for a headset.
Live sporting events are not new to VR, but Saturday is LiveLike’s public debut. The startup has streamed a few soccer matches in the past, including a Copa America match between Mexico and Venezuela in June, but those streams were only for small groups of fans as a test-run.
LiveLike’s setup is much more TV-like than when another VR streaming startup, NextVR, streamed a Warriors’ game with Turner in October. In the Warriors’ stream, there was just one camera view, no replays or announcers, and you had to check the score the same way fans in the stands did: by looking at an in-stadium scoreboard.
LiveLike is taking a different approach. In addition to multiple camera views, you can keep Fox’s TV feed of the game, including announcer commentary, in the upper lefthand corner of the screen, and a small dashboard in front of you lets you pull up stats and highlights during the game.
Unlike traditional VR videos that let you see 360-degree views of your surroundings, LiveLike only films 180-degree views, replacing the area “behind” you with what looks like an in-stadium suite that doubles as a menu to navigate around the app. I tested it this week, and was surprised to find that I didn’t miss the full 360-degree view at all. How often do you turn around while attending a game anyways?
Fox says Saturday’s college football stream is one of a number of games it hopes to stream this year with LiveLike. (It also works with NextVR, according to Devin Poolman, senior VP of digital platforms for Fox Sports.)
“VR is general is an area where we think it’s important to be experimental,” poolman said. “I don’t think anybody’s going to knock it out of the park right now in terms of huge audiences and a great execution. So we’re more focused on trying different things and learning.”
The learning begins at 7:30 pm ET Saturday.