This Week in VR Sports: Sports Illustrated NYC Marathon, New England Patriots & NextVR and NFL

Another weekly recap of VR in sports.

Another week has gone by and as ever there’s been plenty of virtual reality (VR) sports news about. Sports Illustrated has created an experience for the New York City (NYC) marathon, New England Patriots have invested in Wi-fi for a more connected stadium and NextVR has partnered with NFL for immersive post-game experiences.

Sports Illustrated Debuts 2016 NYC Marathon VR Experience

Time Inc.’s Sports Illustrated along with media company CyberLink have collaborated on an exclusive VR experience for the NYC Marathon. Called “26.2 in 360,” puts viewers in the shoes of a 10-time NYC marathon runner at the 2016 race.

Recorded by runner Alex Christison using a special stabilisation rig and a Samsung Gear 360 camera, the experience is available on Time Inc.’s LIFE VR app for iOS and Android, with a 360-degree version on SI.com.

“With the launch of 26.2 in 360, we’re able to not only take our viewers on a journey that many will never otherwise take, but we are particularly excited about the timeliness of offering this experience,” said Mia Tramz, managing editor of LIFE VR. “This year’s world-famous NYC marathon took place just a day ago, and by collaborating with the talented teams at Sports Illustrated and CyberLink, we’re thrilled to be able to offer this to our viewers the morning after the race.

“Each year millions cheer from the sidelines and tune in to watch the runners of the NYC Marathon, but the technology advancing as fast as the marathon’s participation, we wanted to create a method to allow viewers to experience the marathon firsthand as a runner,” said Richard Carriere, Senior VP of Global Marketing from CyberLink. “We looked to Sports Illustrated as the natural partners in this space, and with Time Inc.’s LIFE VR pushing the envelope in offering new and immersive experiences to the masses, this collaboration was the perfect fit.”

Extreme Networks Expands Partnership with the New England Patriots to Complete the Industry’s First Wave 2 Stadium Implementation at Gillette Stadium 

Extreme Networks, Inc., the Official Wi-Fi Solutions Provider of the National Football League (NFL), announced this week that it’s extended its partnership with the New England Patriots to deploy its advanced flow-based 802.11ac Wave 2 wireless technology at Gillette Stadium. The aim is to meet demands for fans demands for connectivity including augmented reality (AR) functionality.

To ensure that the stadium continues to meet the needs of its ever-growing fan base, the Patriots are upgrading to further leverage ExtremeWireless, ExtremeSwitching, ExtremeManagement, ExtremeControl and ExtremeAnalytics to elevate Gillette’s Wi-Fi to a newfound level of efficiency and meet the growing expectations of fans.

Fred Kirsch VP of Content, New England Patriots and Kraft Sports Productions said: “We recognize that in-stadium, high-density Wi-Fi connectivity is the next frontier for the NFL and we’re proud to partner with Extreme to deploy such an advanced solution. Looking ahead, we’re confident that we’re prepared to meet our fans’ increasing connectivity demands. Whether it’s wearables, augmented reality or accessing next-gen player stats, we’ll be ready with the best available technology to support our fans.”

“As one of the first NFL stadium venue Wi-Fi deployment in 2012, and now the first in-stadium Wave 2 implementation in 2016, we’re thrilled to bring our relationship with the Patriots to the next level with the expansion of our most advanced wireless technology available in the industry today. With more devices on the network and a higher demand for engagement at Gillette Stadium, we understand that advanced Wi-Fi technology is necessary to connect fans with their favorite apps and deliver an exceptional game day experience,” commented John Brams, Director of Sports,  Entertainment and Hospitality, Extreme Networks.

NFL and NextVR to Produce VR Post-Game Experience

The National Football League and NextVR, the VR broadcasting specialist for live events, are collaborating to bring fans a immersive post-game experience featuring highlights from three 2016 NFL regular season games.

Available for free to fans worldwide following the San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals game on 13th November, two additional post-game experiences will be produced and distributed following the Chicago Bears at New York Giants game on 20th Nov. and the New York Giants at Cleveland Browns game on 27th Nov.

“Adding the NFL to our growing portfolio of content partnerships further validates our unmatched technology and our ability to deliver an incredible virtual reality experience to sports fans,” said Brad Allen, NextVR Executive Chairman.  “NFL fans are constantly craving more football and this partnership will meet this demand by delivering an unprecedented virtual reality experience to fans both in the U.S. and around the globe.”

“Virtual reality is a rapidly evolving technology, and this is a great opportunity for the NFL to continue experimenting with the capabilities and distribution of VR experiences,” said William Deng, Director, Media Strategy and Business Development at the NFL. “We’re excited to work with NextVR to bring this first-of-its-kind experience to our fans.”

The VR experiences will be approximately 10 minutes in length and hosted by veteran broadcaster Danyelle Sargent and 13-year NFL veteran Ephraim Salaam,  providing expert commentary alongside game highlights. As with all NextVR content the app is freely downloadable for the Samsung Gear VR headset.

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