Fox Sports to bring VR tech to Big Ten Football Championship with LiveLike

Football meets virtual reality in the latest development in VR technology.

Fox Sports is matching up football with virtual reality in the latest development in VR technology.

Tomorrow’s Big Ten Football Championship game between Penn State and Wisconsin will include a 2D live feed of the game using five cameras, Multichannel News reported. Fox Sports has partnered with on-demand sports VR media company LiveLike to offer this “different kind of VR experience,” Michael Davies, senior vice president of field and technical operations at Fox Sports, told the publication.

The VR setup will use an ultra HD camera to obtain a tangible view from the sideline for football fans, a wide-view camera to see the entire field and more perspectives from cameras on each goal post. Interactive elements of the technology provide access to replays and stats, a critical element for football fans attempting to memorize player data and make decisions about their fantasy teams.

“While live VR is important, you need to give the viewer something else to do,” Davies said, according to Multichannel News. “We think that the audience will come for the live VR, but they will stay for some of the other things they can do with it.”

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Fox Sports took another step to give fans an extra perspective in a partnership with GoPro: Teeny cameras in the hats of on-field referees will provide point of view unlike any of the other cameras. Fox plans to use the referee hat cameras for replays and to offer a delayed signal of those audio-free feeds on Fox Sports Go, its TV Everywhere app.

“We feel that we're just scratching the surface with something like this,” Davies told Multichannel News.

Fox Sports and LiveLike previously offered VR options during the Sept. 17 football matchup between Ohio State and Oklahoma, but tomorrow’s VR viewing will be enhanced with those extra details from the expanded LiveLike platform. More developments are expected from the Fox Sports and LiveLike duo for the Dec. 10 Major League Soccer Cup between Toronto FC and the Seattle Sounders.

LiveLike also has a social sharing app for VR that allows viewers to see and interact with avatars representing social media friends, making it possible to virtually celebrate with a friend while taking in a sporting event.

Other broadcasters are joining the VR tech trend. Discovery Communications announced last month that it hired a new senior vice president for emerging platforms and partnerships. Rebecca Howard will lead strategy, programming and production for Discovery’s VR brand portfolio. This summer, NBCUniversal streamed 85 hours of Summer Olympics coverage in virtual reality to authenticated pay-TV users equipped with Samsung Galaxy smartphones and Samsung Gear VR headsets.