The Future of Sports Streaming: AI-Powered Virtual Reality and Immersive Experiences

The landscape of sports streaming is undergoing a transformative journey, fueled by the convergence of artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality (VR). In this exclusive interview, we bring together two industry pioneers: José Somolinos from Accedo.Tv and Jeronimo Macanás from Jump. These experts shed light on the role of VR and AI in shaping the future of sports streaming, exploring how these technologies are individually revolutionizing fan experiences.


Part 1: Expert in Virtual Reality and Immersive Experiences (José Somolinos – Accedo.Tv)

  • You’ve been at the forefront of the virtual reality and immersive experiences industry. How do you envision the role of VR in the future of sports streaming?
    • Sports has everything we need to create a compelling experience on immersive platforms. You don’t need to invest today in expensive new video formats such as 360 video or holograms. Instead you can start with traditional 2D video, which everyone knows, and start adding layers to enhance the experience for the fans. For example, we can add different camera angles, live stats, automated highlights, mini-games, etc.  
  • What are some key technologies and advancements in VR that have already begun shaping the way sports are being consumed?
    • Spatial video is the main technology that will shape the general public’s opinion about VR. Today, VR videos are, most of the time, not three-dimensional, are of low quality and are taken from a single point of view. Apple is preparing a new video format to increase realism and liveliness as if we were present at the event. It’s something you can’t imagine until you experience it yourself. VR is not only going to compete with traditional broadcasting, but with live events itself. 
  • In what ways is virtual reality transforming fan engagement and experience, allowing them to get closer to the action and athletes?
    • Beyond live video, every experience in virtual reality will make fans closer to the sport. For example, Real Madrid has hundreds of millions of fans around the world, but only a fraction of them live in Madrid. They could all visit the Santiago Bernabéu stadium in VR as if they were there, holding the Champions League trophy with their hands, buying the latest jersey, and why not meeting a holographic version of the players in an interactive experience. Sports brands have the largest potential to monetize immersive technologies because fans will do whatever to feel closer to their stars. 
  • Can you share any successful examples of sports events or leagues that have effectively integrated VR to captivate audiences?
    • Most success stories come from the United States, but even the big leagues can’t brag about having millions of fans watching content on immersive platforms. This is likely to change over the coming months as access to headwear is increasing, thanks to more OEMs seeing the maturity of the technology. The Apple Vision Pro has created a lot of expectations amongst the general public. Still, for a fraction of the price, you can get the recently released Quest 3, which, in lesser quality, delivers a well-rounded, engaging product that will help VR hit mass market. 


Part 2: Expert in AI and Big Data (Jerónimo Macanás – Jump)

  • AI and big data are driving the personalization of sports content. How do these technologies enable sports fans to receive tailored content based on their preferences?

AI and big data are transforming the sports viewing experience. These technologies analyze vast amounts of data, including users’ past viewing behavior, favorite teams, and sports preferences. With this data, AI algorithms create personalized recommendations, curating a tailored content experience for each fan. For example, if a user regularly watches soccer, AI can suggest relevant live games, highlight reels, and news updates, ensuring fans receive content that resonates with their interests.

  • Could you provide examples of how AI is being utilized to analyze vast amounts of sports data, providing valuable insights to both fans and teams?

AI is revolutionizing the analysis of extensive sports data, benefiting both fans and teams. For fans, AI-driven data analytics enhances their viewing experience by offering in-depth statistics, real-time insights, and predictive information, making each game more engaging and informative

On the other hand, teams leverage AI to scrutinize player performance, injuries, and game strategies, leading to more informed decision-making.

  • In what ways does AI contribute to the monetization of sports streaming platforms through targeted advertising and sponsorships?

AI enhances the monetization of sports streaming by enabling precise targeting. It collects user data to create detailed profiles, allowing platforms to serve highly relevant ads. For instance, if a user frequently watches NBA games, AI can deliver basketball-related ads. Sponsors benefit from reaching a receptive audience, and platforms maximize ad revenue by delivering personalized content to users.

  • How do you see the integration of AI and big data evolving in the future of sports streaming, and what exciting developments can we anticipate?

The future holds exciting possibilities for AI and big data in sports streaming. We can anticipate even more precise content recommendations, real-time fan engagement tools, and advanced analytics for teams. AI-driven augmented and virtual reality experiences could become commonplace, offering immersive sports viewing. Additionally, data security and privacy measures will be of paramount importance to ensure users’ trust and data protection.


Part 3: Expert Insights on Synergy (José Somolinos – Accedo.Tv, and Jerónimo Macanás – Jump)

  • Virtual reality and AI-driven personalization seem to be two powerful trends in sports streaming. How can these technologies work together to create a seamless and immersive sports streaming experience?

JUMP: The convergence of virtual reality (VR) and AI-driven personalization holds immense potential. AI can analyze user preferences and habits to curate personalized sports content, making the VR experience more engaging. Imagine watching a basketball game in VR, and AI tailors the experience to highlight your favorite plays, provide real-time stats, and even switch camera angles based on your interests. The result is a truly immersive and tailored sports experience.

ACCEDO: People tend to ask me, “What’s the killer feature in VR?” and the truth is that nobody knows it yet! We’re in a discovery phase, defining new UX affordances on new devices and with new types of content. The only way to figure out what works is by putting it in front of real users and analyzing their experience, how much time they spend on this feature, which buttons are never clicked, etc. We are building the pages of the XR industry on a white canvas, and the data-driven approach is our line. 

  • What challenges and opportunities do you foresee in the continued integration of VR and AI in the sports industry?

JUMP: The integration of VR and AI faces challenges such as the cost of VR equipment and accessibility. However, it opens up new revenue streams for sports leagues and streaming platforms. There’s also the potential for data privacy concerns, as AI collects user data for personalization. The challenge is to strike the right balance between personalization and user data protection.

ACCEDO: The main challenge is momentum. How to convince people to buy a headset if there is barely any content, and how to convince content owners to invest in XR before it gets mass market? This catch-22 situation generates immense opportunity for those who dare to go first. These brands will tap into new revenue streams in sports, with sponsorship specifically being the most relevant. Who wouldn’t want to have a new channel to interact with the fanbase and be part of their homes? XR will allow that and much more. 

  • Looking ahead, can you share your vision of what sports streaming might look like in, say, five or ten years, with the continued evolution of AI, big data, and VR technologies?

JUMP: Expert: In five to ten years, sports streaming will become highly personalized, offering viewers an interactive experience. AI will provide real-time stats, personalized camera angles, and social interaction within the stream. VR will play a prominent role, with fans experiencing games as if they’re in the stadium. Big data will help teams make data-driven decisions, from player performance to game strategy, creating a more competitive and informed sports landscape.

ACCEDO: In 10 years, sports and stadium owners will create a new revenue stream from “virtual events.” Telegraph, radio, and television have tried to recreate the live experience remotely for over 100 years. Still, extended reality will mark a milestone: everyone from everywhere will have this immense feeling of sitting in the stadium cheering for their team. A global shared stadium.

In the dynamic arena of sports streaming, the convergence of virtual reality and artificial intelligence, as articulated by José Somolinos of Accedo.Tv and Jeronimo Macanás of Jump, beckons a new era for enthusiasts worldwide. As we wrap up this insightful conversation, it becomes clear that the fusion of VR and AI is not merely a technological advance but a gateway to an immersive, personalized sports experience. The journey ahead is rife with challenges and untapped potentials, paving the way for sports streaming to transcend its current boundaries. The blend of innovation, data-driven insights, and fan-centric technologies holds the promise of a future where every touchdown, goal, or victory is not just observed but felt, bringing sports aficionados closer to the heart of the game in ways yet unexplored.