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New Broadcasting Industry Pathways Formed By Immersive Media

Recent CES Sports Zone featured an immersive media panel and its impact on all aspects ranging from training to audiences. The topic is garnering considerable interest from sports broadcasting stalwarts like Geoff Reiss from Yahoo Sports.

Immersive technology media has some way to go before gaining mainstream popularity, but evolving audience media consumption habits signify better days. The recently concluded CES Sports Zone in Las Vegas had a panel designated to Immersive Media. It featured the participation of Sandra Lopez, who shed light on the topic.

Intel draws frequent comparisons between the latest immersive technology forms (AR and VR), to the rates of cell phone adoption. The mass transition from desktop to feature-rich mobile devices is a great example in this regard. – Sandra Lopez

The panelists, from left: Michael Davies, Fox Sports; William Deng, NFL; Danny Keens, NextVR; Sandra Lopez, Intel; and Geoff Reiss, Yahoo.

Lopez explained that software, hardware and content creation for immersive offerings are still in their early days. She stated that adoption among consumers is growing, as both potential customer groups and business models change.

Danny Keens, Vice President of Content, NextVR joined Lopez on the panel, along with Verizon Media and Yahoo Sports General Manager Geoff Reiss, and William Deng, Vice President of Media Strategy and Business Development, NFL.

Deng stated that VR should not be considered as an objective or finished product, but as a creative tool. He also exclaimed that the days of conventional broadcast media were numbered.

Elaborating his statement, Deng remarked that he acknowledged the role of television in reaching audiences at large, even for the considerable future. However, the TV experience can be revamped completely using forms of immersive technology. According to Deng, TV broadcasting is an art form perfected over many decades and will be the primary mode, but immersive media can bring greater improvements.

Virtual reality technology is currently limited to compatible devices, cameras, and screen resolution. Yet, going by the trends present on the CES exhibition floors, Keens made an observation regarding how technology is evolving fast.

Keens explained how the most prominent technology companies globally are investing billions into virtual reality. He explained that a key challenge was to fully engage viewers, even though technological enhancements are boosting watch times.

Reiss believes that discrepancies related to rights and content restrictions are significant stumbling blocks. He stated that extensive multi-year rights deals create challenges, especially because technology is evolving fast. According to Reiss, the next two years are quite crucial for incorporation of further innovations, in terms of immersive technology and sports media.

Reiss considers the current state of the industry as the ‘most exciting’ in his career due to the experiences being revealed. He remarked that the developments could be seen as jetpacks for sports.

The rate of immersive media development is an exciting prospect for Reiss. He remembers the time when real-time Internet sports scores could be regarded as immersive.

All four Immersive Media panelists concluded with expectations for the next five years. While Reiss hinted at greater adoption, Deng stated that immersive technology could veer into non-media applications. Keens hinted at highly-immersive audience experiences.

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