Miguel Ángel Moreno
Sports Desk, May 28 (EFE).- The Final Four, which this weekend will see the Euroleague basketball champion crowned in Cologne — still without spectators because of the pandemic — will for the first time feature a new kind of virtual crowd thanks to cutting edge technology that will give 14,210 fans an immersive, albeit remote, experience.
The tournament that will decide Europe’s best team between Barcelona, CSKA Moscow, Anadolu Efes and Armani Milan at the Lanxess Arena will not be able to welcome a crowd due to Covid, forcing organizers to look for alternatives to involve fans.
“We have worked on two lines: how to bring the final to the fans’ homes, mainly through content, and how to bring fans virtually to Cologne, and we have relied on technology to make it possible,” Euroleague marketing and communication director Álex Ferrer explains to Efe.
Euroleague has teamed up with YBVR, a Californian company of Spanish origin, to create the ‘Final Four VR Pass’, a paid subscription to watch the four matches with four 180-degree vision cameras, in addition to the eight that are used in the television production: 12 different perspectives which the viewer can change at will as part of an enhanced, interactive experience.
“It’s a ‘Final Four’ season ticket, of which we will sell 14,210 tickets because that’s the number of fans who would have been in the pavilion in Cologne,” Ferrer details.
Users who purchase this subscription will be able to watch the matches either in virtual reality goggles and on their mobile or computer, choosing which perspective of the game they want to have, served in 8K quality at 60 frames per second (almost double the standard resolution) and with no delay in the change of shots thanks to the technology of YBVR, a company based in California and Madrid.
“The most interesting thing is that this is the first time a virtual ticket has been offered. We are creating a new category of rights, which are no longer television rights, but immersive rights. It’s a disruption,” says YBVR founder Héctor Prieto.
According to Prieto, the technology opens the door for sporting events to offer two types of tickets — in-person and virtual — which will stay on after the pandemic.
“When Covid-19 has been forgotten, we will see that on ticket websites you will be able to decide between physically going to an event or watching it from home, either because it is very expensive or you don’t feel like traveling, and the experience will be so real that you won’t remember if you were there or not,” he says. EFE