If you’re a regular visitor to VRFocus (and if you are, both thank you and hello) you’ll be very well aware that we have a thrice weekly weekday series where we look into everything to do with 360 degree video. Called Life in 360 it’s a window into the ways both professionals and amateurs, businesses and individuals use 360 degree video. Sometimes it is to sell a product, sometimes it is to tell a story. Sometimes it is a special occasion, a holiday in either the calendar of vacation sense. Sometimes it is educational – something simply instructive, or an actual lesson to be taught. Other times it is purely entertainment.
In terms of the latter of these, one organisation that has cropped up on a number of occasions has been World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), this is equally true of our regular Saturday feature This Week In VR Sport. This is because for some time now WWE have been both experimenting with virtual reality (VR) tech and openly questioning when it would be the right time for the company to make the next leap in its already impressive production. Would it be saved for a WrestleMania extravaganza, rolled out during its regular series of pay per view (PPV) events or would it be something that would be slipped into its regular broadcasts like Raw and Smackdown? They’ve been testing here and there for some time, and after a partnership in 2015 with Samsung the broadcast giant has revealed it is teaming up with another name familiar to regular readers: NextVR.
Announced in Variety, NextVR will be bringing their considerable experience to broadcasting in VR to WWE and will be working alongside its television broadcasting team to supply and rig 10-12 cameras throughout the arena to provide a definite virtual broadcast for wrestling fans the world over. Cameras will even be in the ring, secreted (in some fashion) in the turnbuckles.
“It’s something you can’t see or experience on television, WWE and VR is a match made in heaven.” Enthused NextVR’s Vice President of content Danny Keens, explaining that NextVR was drawn to WWE after its efforts with boxing produced the goods. As for how that would translate to ‘the squared circle’, Keens claimed to Variety that what they’d actually shot so far by way of test foot age was “by far the most compelling VR content I’ve seen”. Which considering the range and scope of NextVR’s activities to date is quite an endorsement.
As for where the VR footage will be used for now highlights will be free of charge on NextVR’s own platform. But WWE isn’t ruling out the possibility that it will, at some point make its way to the WWE Network as additional content. According to the WWE’s Chief Revenue and Marketing Officer Michelle Wilson the fans will tell them what they want next, be it VR or even augmented reality (AR). If there’s the demand, she says “We will be there.”
VRFocus will be following further developments with the tag team of WWE and NextVR and will bring you more news regarding this and other sports and entertainment uses of immersive technology in the near future.