The Sports & Music Industry: Leading The Non-Gaming VR Evolution

In my last article, I gave an insight to which industries VR has been disrupting. Recently, I have been involved in creating 360 contents for Alex (Ankli) an up-coming artist in Spain. It gave me the inspiration to explore how the Sports and Music industry is taking full advantage of VR.

How many times in your life have you dreamed of meeting your favourite celebrity. How many times have you wished to have a conversation with them and get to know them for who they really are. Well, dream no more as VR is turning this into a reality. The most noticeable is in the sports and music industry.



NextVR Live VR Shooting

NextVR is without a doubt the leading VR live sports production company that is leading the VR evolution. It is available on Samsung Gear VR where you can watch live VR NBA, football, tennis and NFL. They were one of the first VR experiences that I tried and made me believe in VR. For example, I watched Chelsea vs Real Madrid in full immersion for 90 minutes. It is very different to other VR experiences because they usually last only a few minutes and doesn’t appeal to me to go back for more. However, with NextVR I was able to watch from the first row right next to the pitch whilst sat in a completely different continent. This saves me the cost of the flights, game ticket, accommodation and takes me right next to superstar footballers in action.

On the other hand, there are problems which inhibits live VR sports to penetrate the mass market. For example, fans can’t choose their seats, the quality of the image is not able to replicate real life view and it remains exclusive to a few leagues and sports. I have no doubt they will slowly expand its operation globally when adoption of VR picks up its pace. Also, this company is slowly working on better ways of broadcasting such as allowing different seats options, 6 degree of freedom (your movements imitated in real time in VR) and negotiating with more sports leagues. I believe VR broadcast in sports will be a massive industry within a few years.

John Terry Football Academy

Samsung Gear VR In app screenshot of John Terry

Whilst live VR broadcast is great for sports fans, we should also turn our attention to one off exclusive VR experiences. John Terry Football Academy VR is a recently launched experience on the Samsung Gear VR headset. The app includes a one to one experience with John Terry of Chelsea FC, one of the best defenders in the world. He shares to you football tips, stories of his life and his success. As a fan, I don’t believe I can get any closer to him. This experience can be applied to almost any celebrities who wants to get closer to fans and connect with us in a way no other medium has ever been able to provide. It is the sense of emotional connection that is not replicable when you seat face to face with your role models.

However, there are only a few of these experiences at the moment because of cost and knowledge about VR technology. I encourage more celebrities out there to use this as an opportunity to connect with their fans. I foresee many more of this type of experience very soon that can persuade more fans to buy their first VR headsets.

Follow my lead: The Story of the 2016 NBA Finals 

Samsung Gear VR App, Follow My Lead

FOLLOW MY LEAD: The Story of the 2016 NBA Finals is an exclusive VR documentary on Samsung Gear VR. Before, we discussed about the emotional connection that the fans get in a sports VR experience and this one is no different. The documentary is action packed, full of emotion with behind the scene exclusives. I am not even a fan of basketball but this documentary managed to bring out excitement from my body that I didn’t expect. For a basketball fan, this would be a treat of a life time.

However, the difficult part of making a VR sports documentary is the planning and the collection of many pieces of material before hand in order to make a perfect story. This is because the content creators cannot predict what will happen during the games therefore, filming would have to be flexible and on the call instead of a pre-planned one time shooting. The difficulty in this is the cost of placing a team that can be called out to film whenever a special moment is occurring. In addition, post-production would take many people to sort out and correct all the material in order to put a final piece together. With this in mind, I do not see many VR sports documentary releasing soon because of the high cost and time consumption of making one.

Overall, the sports industry is leading the VR evolution and embracing it in order to connect to their fans through live stream and exclusive contents. Although we will have to wait for a few years until the price of this technology goes down so both the content creators and fans can afford such an immersive experience.


MadCool Festival

Mad Cool Festival VR Documentary by GAZ VR

Music is another industry that is embracing the VR technology. For example, Mad Cool Festival is a new rock music event in Madrid, Spain that attracted a lot of attention last summer. GAZ Virtual Reality is the content studio behind the creation of this sneak peak 360 experience that brought this festival to life for those who missed out on the first year. The use of VR to promote a music festival is fantastic because whilst videos and pictures can give an idea of the fun experience, VR immerses people into the festival directly. It can amplify your senses that a video cannot capture and put you right in the middle of the crowd.

Without a doubt, there remains limitation to how much VR can enhance a viewer’s experience because the VR industry is in its infancy. For example, for a music festival, the ambience is very important and 360 visuals alone cannot capture this. It needs 360 audio as well to capture the noise in the environment to increase the authenticity of being there. In addition, it needs a good pair of headphones. I believe these complementary components will be vital to improve the VR technology as a whole.

One Republic — Kids

One Republic — Kids

This music video was captured by a leading VR content studio Here Be Dragons. It was a complementary 360 experience to their 2D music video. It has over 1 million views on YouTube and had was taken in one continuous shot. The bravery and effort put into this experience demonstrates the possibilities of VR and that there are no limits to what story you can tell.

The only improvement I can suggests is turning this passive story into a more active one by placing the viewer as the first person. Slowly we will see more of this as the technology becomes easier to handle by producers.

Kendrick Lamar — Humble

Kendrick Lamar — Humble

Kendrick Lamar, the most celebrated rapper for his creativity and bravery for pushing boundaries. In his latest music video, it features a part where he used a 360 camera to create a little planet effect. Although the video is not in 360 nor VR, it is fair to say that the big artists in the music industries are jumping into this technology.

VR music videos remain very rare because of the difficulty in both the idea generation and execution. This is because filming in 360 degrees requires a completely new technique both for directors and actors. Personally, I have been involved in a few shooting myself and there are many areas which the industry are still learning. For example, the directors can no longer sit behind the cameras. Monitoring a shot requires an external solution such as Teradek that displays all angles, wireless and behind the stage. This is just one of many problems of shooting with this new medium.

Overall, VR is adding a substantial value to the music industry and more artists will be using this to propel their creativity further.


I believe the sports and music industry is leading the non-gaming VR evolution because the value is obvious to both the creators and the fans. Of course the use of this technology remains a niche but with big artists and bands like Kendrick Lamar and One Republic embracing it, the adoption will spread. I encourage you, who is reading this right now to do a shout out to your favourite artist and sportsperson to make a 360/VR video.

Next article, I want to share with you the theme HYPER-REALITY. It is a free roaming, warehouse-scale VR experience that is very similar to laser tag. It is the most immersive experience in the world right now!

Visit our page to enjoy some exciting 360/VR project that are coming soon:

Thanks for reading!

(Polo Lam, Global Marketing Assistant @GAZ VR)

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