Audi has climbed aboard as the presenting sponsor for Fox Sports’s virtual reality coverage of Saturday’s MLS Cup.
For the game between Toronto FC and the Seattle Sounders (coverage gets underway at 7:30 p.m. ET on Fox), Fox Sports, in partnership with Major League Soccer, will use LiveLike’s VR platform to stitch in a live 2D feed of the match into a digital, 3D suite that also offers access to other interactive elements.
Fox Sports will offer the experience on its authenticated VR app (viewers will need their MVPD credentials to log in) for iOS and Android (which can be used with cardboard viewers), as well as the Oculus-powered Samung Gear VR, though viewers can also tune in without a headset.
Fox Sports and LiveLike have teamed up in a similar fashion for the recent Big Ten championship game and Sept. 17 football game between Ohio State and Oklahoma.
In addition to offering five camera angles and access to rosters and live stats, the virtual suite, for the first time, will also let viewers rewind the game in 30-second increments, going back as far as 30 minutes.
As the presenting sponsor for the VR experience during the MLS Cup, Audi will provide in-suite branding, a digitally-rendered in-suite Audi car, and sponsorship of each player’s “Audi Player Index score,” based on a calculation of certain in-game metrics.
“While live VR is important, you need to give the viewer something else to do,”
We think that the audience will come for the live VR, but they will stay for some of the other things they can do with it,” Michael Davies, senior vice president of field and technical operations at Fox Sports, said in a recent interview.
Though VR is still gaining traction among consumers, advertisers and sponsors are showing interest in the platform. Fox Sports has secured sponsorships for past VR events, such as with Toyota for the Daytona 500 and Lexus for VR coverage of the U.S. Open golf tournament.
“We’ve had an awful lot of interest in VR” from advertisers, Davies said. “There’s a lot of education that’s going on with the ad agencies and the sponsors to see where they fit in. They want to make sure they are not getting in too early and they want to make sure they’re not getting in too late. But they want to make a splash.”