Fans will soon be able to watch MLB games with a 3D presentation of the strike zone and real-time data graphics integrated into the broadcasts.
Fans who own Google Daydream headsets will have additional value placed upon their MLB.TV subscriptions starting next month, as MLB virtual reality broadcasts of every live and on-demand game will launch on June 1.
Diamond Leung of SportTechie reports that the broadcasts will put viewers in a virtual batter’s box. The feed of the game itself won’t be in VR, but the environment that the broadcast of the game will be part of will be a 3D, interactive space through which users can call up statistics, standings, scores and the current batter’s hot/cold zones as well as the Statcast strike zone.
The fact that 360 video, or a virtual reality equivalent of being present in the stadium for a game, isn’t yet integrated into the At Bat VR platform doesn’t mean that such an experience isn’t coming. In fact, it’s being actively pursued by MLB. Some teams have done their own non-game 360 video content already, and producing games in 360 video is a logical next step for the technology.
When the technology and logistics catch up with MLB’s desire to broadcast games in VR, expect MLB to offer fans a weekly game in VR on MLB.TV. How soon that might come is a matter of speculation right now. That exact one game a week in VR product is part of the NBA’s League Pass subscription service for Samsung VR users currently. It’s a model that MLB will likely follow in the future.
That would likely involve a change in perspective as compared to this current product, however. It’s unlikely that a game presented in 360 video would put the viewer in a virtual batter’s box, as the hardware necessary to produce that environment could be obtrusive to the actual game. It’s more likely that the new VR environment would put a fan in a virtual seat in the stadium.
Until that happens, At Bat VR will offer fans who want to interact with the baseball games they watch a reason to purchase the Google Daydream and a subscription to MLB.TV along with some information about the interest of 360 video in MLB’s fan base. Both of those benefits make the investment of creating the platform a worthwhile expense.