Credit: Oculus

Oculus Venues is a new platform for live streaming VR broadcasting that offers a social experience. VR Chat is one of the most popular apps on any headset, and sports bars are popular for a reason. Much of the content is powered by NextVR, a robust platform that will soon bring 4K and six degrees of freedom to the world of sports broadcasting.

The rush to recreate the live experience ends up feeling very lonely. NextVR and Intel do an excellent job of capturing and broadcasting events, but the user is alone in space. Oculus Venues wants to design an experience that helps fans interact with one another, alongside the live event they are watching.

How it Works

Oculus Venues puts users inside a literal coliseum: nine rows of 28 seats each for a whopping 252 people all watching the same event. Synchronously. That’s the critical part because it’s difficult to convey the sense of scale. VR Chat and its ilk accommodate maybe 40 people maximum. Oculus Venues offers a grand scale venue that provides front-row views from anywhere you choose to sit.

Users won’t be able to move. The company put this restriction in place to try and reduce server load, but it has a nice side effect. No trolls to block your view or mess with your space. People can sit anywhere they want to, provided there is an empty seat, and that has potential to backfire. Being a troll on Facebook is one thing, there are tools to moderate that. Being a troll at a live venue is a bit different and harder to avoid. Some keen-eyed users may notice lots of moderation happening behind the scenes.

Pros and Cons

Oculus is trying to build an ambitious platform for viewing sports and live events, but there are a few kinks that need to be worked out. First, the tiered seating is cool, and users genuinely feel like they are sitting elsewhere in a stadium. The camera angles change automatically, though, which feels a bit jarring when your avatar is seated in a stadium. In the future, it would be great if users could choose a sports bar or a movie theater background, instead of only the Colosseum.

MLB will be broadcasting free games throughout June. However, you will need to login to the application with your Facebook account to view them. For some of the privacy-minded among you, that might be an issue.

We see the potential for VR to sell seating and other perks within this kind of application. Box seating already includes advertising and logos to help keep the experience free. Premium passes might help clear sections out for your friends. Currently, you have to hope you can find a section of seating left open for you and your friends to grab. Also, the avatars could use some love and attention. They look a little dull and could take some cues from Mii creation if they want that minimalist look.

Credit: Oculus

Installation can be misleading. If no live content is available, the app might not display anything. Users have reported seeing what appears to be an empty application. Although Oculus has tons of content incoming, you have to be in the app at the scheduled time to see it.

Final Thoughts

Sports broadcasting is taking some interesting turns that we think will make the act of watching a lot more engaging. You and your friends can be together in a single space, online or offline, enjoying a social experience with other fans. Venues lets you hear what others have to say, so you’ll have a good chance to make offline connections over shared interests.

NextVR provides the underlying technology, and it’s exciting to see how these platforms are utilizing that video production.