VR in Sports: Creating Immersive Experiences for the Smart Fan

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In December 2016, Tunisha Singleton, PhD spoke on a panel at the Virtual Reality Summit in San Diego, CA. Alongside virtual reality (VR) notables Joel Newton, Zeality CEO Dipak Patel, and VR director Adam Snell, Dr. Singleton added an intriguing perspective of media psychology. “Sport is so tribal there must be an integration of social presence in immersive media environments. VR must provide complimentary content to add to the overall sport experience,” said Dr. Singleton.

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If one were to examine the evolution of sports media consumption, you’d see a pattern in human activity where consumers what to be fully immersed and engaged with media. From telegrams and radio to social media streaming and VR, we’ve industrially bred a generation of Smart Fans.

Being a sports fan is nothing new. But what has changed are the ways in which fans experience and identify with sport. As Dr. Singleton stated, “We’re watching the rise of the Smart Fan…a new consumer who is always connected and always looking for more media. They want authentic content. They want to participate in a way that adds to the overall experience because it builds their esteem. And by the way, they want it all now.”

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Trending digital media movements like #smsports (social media sports) and #VR have become embedded as new pillars within the industry. The integration of social media has made fan engagement much more personal and intimate. This emphasis in technology means that team identification is likely stimulated by new patterns of media consumption and active social media participation. While VR is presently the hottest buzzword around, the medium must cater to the Smart Fan in order to build retention instead of rejection.

Dr. Singleton is a leading sports media psychologist who works to build synergy between branding and technology to create the most optimum fan experience imaginable. She is also Director of Consulting Partnerships at Reality Science, LLC., the world’s first consulting collective of PhDs exceptionally devoted to the research needs of clients in emergent media and advanced technology sectors.

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