A missed opportunity?
Unless you’ve been travelling through China and North Korea in the past several months, you should’ve at least heard about the “biggest fight ever”. And I’m not entirely sure even the Great Firewall of China would shield you against the news.
The drama, controversy and hype are leaking everywhere. From young to old, most everybody has had the names of Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor pass through their lips lately.
Marketing gimmicks and tricks aside, the MayMac craze is a fascinating phenomenon. The two most prominent names from the boxing and MMA world have come together to bring the fans a stylistically intriguing matchup.
The fire caught on, and the fight is primed to break all combat sports records. With only a bit more than a day left till the fight, the pre-fight anticipation and intensity is reaching a boiling point at the moment.
Now, what does this all have to do with Virtual Reality, you may ask?
Well, it really seems like a gravely missed opportunity that no major VR player, no tech-startup or entrepreneur has seized this unique opportunity to set up a live broadcast in Virtual Reality.
Think about it. From a technical standpoint, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to watch the fight in VR. There are already start-ups and companies, such as NextVR or LiveLike, specifically focusing on live sports broadcasting.
Even NBA and FOX Sports offer their own 360° and VR apps and solutions.
Therefore, it makes sense to bring all top level sports broadcasts into VR, doesn’t it? And it would certainly make sense to make the Mayweather vs. McGregor fight VR accessible, right?
Relics from the past
The specific problem with boxing is that it’s an old sport with its own establishment and accompanying entertainment industry. The kind of establishment and industry that has largely shaped up and developed through the 20th century.
A boxing lead-up to the fight is somewhat “old school”. For instance, boxing press conferences consist of officials and associates all having their own take at the microphone. Obviously, to cycle through this sizeable line-up requires time. A lot of time.
Naturally, the media and especially the fans are not really interested in most of these people. They want to hear boxers’ opinions, thoughts, smack talk, the drama, the hype, the competitiveness.
Second, the boxing industry has long been largely about numbers – stats, PPV buys, money, sponsors etc. The whole thing has become very rigid, with its own way of doing things, often times not optimal and applicable for every situation.
You can imagine that in such an environment, a “new thing” such as Virtual Reality is probably not even an afterthought. The fact that VR is still in its early stages of mass market adoption doesn’t help either.
So, it’s easy to imagine some boxing establishment executives laughing in your face for proposing something like a live VR broadcast. From their perspective, the VR market numbers simply wouldn’t justify the infrastructure and logistics expenditures required to setup a live VR broadcast of the fight.
Last, but not least, Mayweather vs. McGregor standard definition PPV price is $89.95. High definition is $99.95. Just imagine how much more the price would get jacked up for a live VR broadcast. Even the boxing fans who are VR enthusiasts would probably pass on the price tag. It would be too expensive surely.
For a sport like boxing, Virtual Reality is still something alien. It’s an unfortunate reality (no pun intended) we’re living in today.
Change is inevitable, but it takes time
It’s safe to say that VR is growing and slowly leaking into the mainstream. Nothing is 100% certain, but this time around, it doesn’t look to be another tech fad.
Nevertheless, mass mainstream adoption is yet to happen. The financial barrier of entry is still relatively steep for such a niche product in its infancy stages.
A few VR sports broadcasting apps and start-ups are slowly cropping up out there, so there’s obviously some market interest already. Still, it’s going to take a while before live VR sports broadcasts become a regular thing.
In the meantime, #WarMcGregor!