Watching Sports in VR Is a Gimmick That'll Go the Way of 3D Says BT and Sky

By Shabana Arif on at

3D TV was definitely a fad, and it came and went pretty quickly. Watching sports using VR is similarly stupid, says BT and Sky.

Essentially, the technology is plagued by the same issues that 3D TV had, but to an even greater extent. It boils down to watching sports being a shared social experience, and the more barriers something has in the way of that, the worse off that experience will be.

Speaking at the Westminster Media Forum in last month, Sky Sports’ executive director of content, Steve Smith, said:

“[Sky] launched 3D, it was dreadful. There was always a barrier, I think Jamie touched on it, the barrier of putting something between yourselves and the viewer, it didn’t work. What do we learn from that, I think that plays back into my thoughts about where we go next in terms of AR and VR? I think we are at the very early stages of that, but that barrier of a headset, to a certain generation, is always going to be there."

Sky had a dedicated 3D channel for a while that went live in 2010, but it pulled the plug in 2015 - because it was so shit, apparently.

BT's Sport app offers a 360-degree viewing experience that you can enjoy in VR or on your smartphone in plain old 2D, and has broadcast matches in VR too. Apparently the 360 VR highlights feature is popular amongst those who use it, but that's not really painting a larger picture. Jamie Hindhaugh, BT Sport’s chief operating officer, said:

"I don’t believe 360 is a large viewing event for people to watch together. Sport’s a social viewing experience. 3D had its challenges because you’re creating a barrier between you and the next person."

We'll have to see how adoption of the tech amongst the public influences the rise of VR viewing in sports, but nipping down to the pub with your mates and strapping your phone to your face probably isn't it. [Trusted Reviews]