According to Market Watch, The Dallas Cowboys have partnered with StiVR Labs, a virtual reality startup, to provide live-action 3D replays to its players through a VR headset. The Cowboys are not the first sports team to partner with a virtual reality company, as StiVR Labs also has deals with six major college football programs.
A slew of other professional sports teams have partnered with VR companies, as well. For instance, The National Football League is partnered with Zebra Technologies, utilizing their radio frequency identification product to track in real-time the location, motion, and direction of over 200 NFL players. Major League Soccer teams partnered with STATSports and GoPro partnered with the National Hockey League and Vislink. NHL’s San Jose Sharks partnered with The Guitammer Company to televise home games utilizing the company’s patented ‘4D Sports’ haptic-tactile broadcast technology.
VR technology is used to enhance the fan experience or the effectiveness of player training and coaching. VR allows for fans to gain a sense of ‘presence’ by engaging their senses, vital to the virtual experience. Visual data can be provided by both on-person camera and by assembling various camera angles and 360-degree technologies into a virtual athletic space. Tactile data can be broadcast using Guitammer’s technology and personalized athlete data gathered by wearable sensors like Zebra’s and STATSports’. Users get the VR experience through wearing headsets and headphones.
Live sports remains one of the most consistently viewed programs on television and if you consider that fantasy sports is played by 41.5 million people and average $111/year in direct spending per person, sports fans may be willing to pay good price to have this experience and investors should be aware of these developments and companies that are providing such advanced technologies. For instance, The Guitammer Company currently trades with a market cap in the neighborhood of $8-$12 million. Guitammer already has the Sharks’ broadcasts under its belt, plus National Hot Rod Association races broadcast over ESPN2 the year before.