Collegiate Athletic Departments Get Into the VR Game With EON Sports
University of Miami, Penn State serve as pioneers in the immersive medium
2016 has been a breakout year for virtual reality. The immersive technology has seen significant experimentation across many major sports-media brands, such as Fox Sports and CBS Sports, and has become accessible to more users as more headsets hit the market.
While many are standing by to see the medium mature before diving in, a pair of collegiate athletic departments are happy to venture down the road less traveled. In August, both the University of Miami and Penn State announced partnerships with EON Sports, a company originally set up to build VR solutions for coaching and training purposes, and are beginning to roll out experiences designed to offer fans the experience of being on the inside of their favorite athletics programs.
Penn State has launched a subscription service whereby, once it goes live this month, the athletic department will begin sending multiple exclusive experiences per month. The university sees it as an opportunity to both generate revenue and remind fans at home how exciting the in-stadium experience can be.
Penn State Assistant AD, Media and Video Production, Jim Nachtman says, “In a day and age where everyone’s concerned [that] the in-home viewing experience [will] prevent fans from [attending] a home event, we’re committed to reminding them just how special our home events are and why they need/want to come back and be a part of the live experience. [This] allows them to once again feel the energy, excitement, pride, and passion of [being there].”
The schools can upload dynamic content through EON Sports’ proprietary technology. Since the start of the season, each department’s video team has been acquiring VR content from practices, scrimmages, huddles, and interviews.
Miami was the first to announce its plans and is providing content from both men’s and women’s sports.
“After an investment in broadcast and video production, we wanted to expand into other ventures, including 360º video, and we’re able to do that with this immersive product,” says Jason Layton, senior associate athletic director, communications and sales, Miami. “As we look forward to an October launch, we’re excited to show off what our team has been working on in conjunction with EON Sports.”
Although fans of both schools can download a custom-branded VR app and access the content using their own VR headset, both athletic departments offer a school-branded VR headset for $29.95.
“Professional and student athletes have used our technology to improve their performance on the field, and we are excited to bring that same mindset to fans,” says Brendan Reilly, CEO/founder, EON Sports VR. “I dreamed of experiences like these growing up, and I cannot wait to experience what [these] athletes are doing in practice.”