In November 2015, Real Madrid was the first sports team in the world to use Facebook’s 360-degree video feature, taking fans on to the training pitch.
Fast forward five months and they feature is being used throughout the sporting world with a number of clubs, organisations and brands using it on both Facebook and YouTube to not only take fans closer to the action but show that they’re at the coal-face of technological innovation.
From brands like Nike to European football clubs to events like March Madness in the US, who is using the feature, how are they using it and where’s it heading next?
Clubs and sports organisations take ahold of 360-degree videos
In the last few months, some of the biggest sports teams in the world have quickly adopted 360-degree video to their digital strategy and it’s a credit to how seamless it’s fitted into their media plans.
French Football side Paris Saint-Germain teamed up with YouTube during the season to launch a series of 360-degree video clips taking fans behind the scenes. From a warm-up in the stadium to a gala charity, the series is aimed at showing what everyday life at the football club is like, giving fans an opportunity to witness activities they wouldn’t normally get a chance to see.
More recently, the 360 video feature was used by FC Barcelona to unveil the tribute to Johan Cruyff during the players’ entrance ahead of the last El Clasico, immersing viewers in the Camp Nou atmosphere. The video was shared on Facebook quickly at the half-time in ‘real-time’.
True to the trend of these types of technologies, the US has had a grasp of 360-degree videos for slightly longer than the rest of the world, and it’s reflected in the organisations using it. Basketball superstar LeBron James launched a five episode series named “Striving for Greatness” via Facebook using the video tech back at the end of September and various organisations like the NBA have taken advantage of its access to the feature.
Meanwhile, one of the biggest sports events in the US, NCAA March Madness, also provided a lot of content via social media using the 360 video technology. To take fans courtside for the final between Villanova and North Carolina, the NCAA shared four 360-degree videos showing highlights of the game including the tip-off and the final winning three-pointer.
Here come the brands
Since the emergence of this technology, brands have become more open to using it in conjunction with their respective affiliates and have since looked to transform the 360 experience into a commercial experience. This is why we’ve seen a number of brands launch 360-degree video campaigns.
On YouTube, Reebok launched the campaign named “The Moment”, to show off its brand ambassadors training as well as their everyday activities with some of the videos featuring a 360-degree version.
One of the most recent examples come from Nike Football who looked to take fans into the dressing room of the Turkish national team’s dressing room. The video includes captain Arda Turan’s speech with the ability to move inside the video and take a look around the locker room.
What’s the next step?
The question of this might be relatively easy to solve considering viewing a 360-degree video is made far better with the addition of a Virtual Reality headset. But while the widespread adoption of VR technology seems to be the next logical step, it still seems quite far off until VR makes it into every household.
Regardless of this, the 360-degree video feature has bridged the need of having to buy the VR headset as users are able to watch the videos and navigate around the whole environment using arrow controls. This has led to very good viewer numbers, especially on Facebook which clubs, brands and organisations will definitely look to use more.
The key for success with the 360-degree videos is being able to offer fans a more visual and unique experience that they wouldn’t experience otherwise. And so far, this has definitely been why they’ve been so successful to date.
The question ahead is how sports organisations/teams/brands will try to get the most out of using this experience. And we’re likely get an insight into this with the upcoming sports events including the 2016 EUROs, the NBA Playoffs and the Olympics in August.