Meta’s Xtadium VR app promises immersive, social sports content – SportsPro Media
Meta has launched a new sports-focused virtual reality (VR) experience for its Oculus Quest 2 headset, promising viewers and rights holders a more immersive, social way to watch sport.
‘Xtadium’ promises 180-degree VR streams in up to 8K video quality, with customisable real-time statistical overlays and eight different camera angles enabling a more personalised viewing experience.
The application offers live events, on-demand replay and immersive highlights, and users can either watch the event alone or with friends in a private watch party. The aim is to emulate the experience of being at a sporting event as much as possible using the technology.
Developers YBVR are powering the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s (UFC) live VR content, while they have also worked with Euroleague basketball on its immersive coverage.
“Drawing from the experience and technology we’ve developed during the last six years, we built Xtadium to fulfil our dream of creating a new VR streaming application that delivers an immersive, interactive, and social viewing experience around some of the world’s most exciting sports competitions,” said YBVR co-founder and chief technology officer Sebastian Amengual.
The UFC is one of Meta’s launch content partners, offering on-demand coverage of two Legacy Fighting Alliance (LFA) events, while Euroleague will serve up archive content. Xtadium will host immersive on-demand versions of Nascar races, cards from mixed martial arts (MMA) organisation ONE Championship, and live coverage of matches from the All American Cup – Team Tennis Tournament. At present, the service is restricted to the US.
“UFC has a long history of innovating in combat sports and in mixed martial arts in particular,” added Craig Bosari, chief content officer at UFC. “We want to lead our sport in creating unprecedented, fully immersive viewing experiences for fans using state-of-the-art virtual reality technology. Working with Meta and YBVR to provide sports content for Xtadium is a big step forward in reaching that goal.”
Sport has always been high on Meta’s agenda. When it was still known as Facebook, the company experimented with streaming and was heavily linked with acquiring premium sports rights for itself.
A deal with Major League Baseball (MLB) managed to drive younger viewers to its platform and encouraged engagement, but Facebook quickly realised it lacked the ability to monetise the content and has shifted towards becoming a platform for third parties to leverage content.
Whether on-demand content is as compelling as live events remain to be seen, but Meta clearly sees sport as a way to drive more users to its metaverse ecosystem and believes it can offer publishers a way to reach new audiences and differentiate their product.
At a time when Meta’s investors are said to be getting cold feet about the pivot towards the metaverse, and when the company has had to make 11,000 redundancies, any substantial use case is to be welcomed.
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