Professional sports is, in many ways, the gateway to VR. With the price of a Samsung Gear well within a price range that most would consider reasonable, using your phone as a VR or AR device has never been less expensive and more interesting. Here is a roundup of some of the top professional sports apps in VR and AR.
Samsung Gear has Live Sports
In July of 2017, ESPN streamed the X Games to Gear VR headset owners in VR. A multi-camera stream was available with 360 degrees of viewing for BMX and Skateboard Vert events. The high flying action was free of cost, just for owning the headset. There was also a variety of VR content available before the event.
This isn’t the only event that was live streamed either. Samsung has had content partnerships with UFC and Jaunt VR to provide lots of live sports content to its platform at varying price points or are often free with the headset. If you’re looking for a mobile VR entry point, and you’re a lover of sports, why don’t you own a Gear yet?
MLB At Bat
MLB’s app appeals to the traditional statistics nerds who love baseball with greater insight into every player, but MLB At Bat has some great modern features too. For $2.99 monthly or $19.99 per year, you get access to the MLB.TV game of the day and a host of analysis features. Review critical plays, and gain greater insight into the day’s lineups. The app even shows you hot and cold zones for batters, and includes a feed of the game in real time.
MLB At Bat isn’t for the casual fan, it’s a lot like the old days of taking a radio to the live game, where you get the commentary alongside the action. With the app, you get greater insight to the league and its players from your phone.
NBA AR is basically a ticket and game seller, but it’s also a fun mini game that shows off how AR works. It uses ARKit technology to “pin” a basketball court to a flat surface. Your team’s logo is emblazoned onto the court, where you can pop a shot into the net to beat high scores from around the nation.
NBA AR is free, and when you finish a session it will tell you when your team plays next. You can buy tickets and find places to watch the game from within the app as well.
A serious love letter to Vikings fans who took the plunge into VR. Vikings VR is available for free in the Oculus store, and contains 360 degree footage from every game the team has played in their home stadium since 2016. This allows the massive fan base to engage with the stadium and the team in ways that only a small percentage get to experience.
VR games can help us learn how to play sports better, and give us a great workout. But on those off days it’s nice to have the ability to get immersed in our favorite team. Sports can be very emotional and nostalgic, check out the collection of NFL VR films to see great examples at work.
Fox Sports VR
You can experience Fox Sports VR from your desktop, but it’s much better viewing from the app inside the Oculus store or as part of the highlights published on the site. You can click on the headset icon to launch the “VR” experience on the app.
Fox Sports VR gives you curated content for free. It might not be your go to app for watching sports, but it gives you that free introduction to what VR sports is all about and how content is consumed.
YouTube is still the largest source of content for virtual reality, including 360 workout videos and lots of fun sports experiences. 360 degree cameras are rapidly becoming available at the consumer level, so there will be far more content available in the near future as well.
VR sports content is your first step into seeing what the technology is all about, and it’s currently best enjoyed on mobile. If you do decide to dive into a mobile headset, and you’re looking for live sports content, at this stage, the Gear VR may be a good viewing option for you.