FIFA World Cup: BBC Puts Viewers in the Stadiums During Live Games Via Virtual Reality

Thomas Mueller FIFA World Cup Portugal Germany - H 2014
AP Images

Thomas Mueller FIFA World Cup Portugal Germany - H 2014

The BBC is prepping two technically advanced trials for the upcoming FIFA World Cup: delivering the matches live in virtual reality as well as in Ultra HD (4K) with high dynamic range.

The British broadcaster plans to bring audiences live coverage of all 33 BBC matches from Russia through a free app, BBC Sport VR — FIFA World Cup Russia 2018, which will be available for Apple (iOS 10 and above), Android (Android 5 and above), Gear VR, Oculus Go and PlayStation VR.

With the supported VR systems, viewers could find themselves inside a virtual luxury private box in the stadium, with access to the live matches as well as game stats that pop up from a virtual coffee table. They also could switch their view and choose one behind either one of the goals.

When there is no game taking place, plans are to offer viewers a daily highlights package and other on-demand content in VR.

Through a separate trial, the World Cup also marks the first time the BBC will show a major tournament live in Ultra HD with HDR on the BBC iPlayer. The aim is to make all 29 of BBC One’s World Cup matches available to a limited audience with compatible UHD TVs and high-speed internet connections. (The BBC will use its Hybrid Log-Gamma HDR format.)

The World Cup — which is set to kick off June 14 in Russia — has long been a stage for broadcasters such as the BBC to test new technology, and this is no exception.

“The BBC has brought major live broadcasting breakthroughs to U.K. audiences throughout the history of the World Cup. From the very first tournament on TV in 1954 and England’s finest hour in 1966, to the first color World Cup in 1970 and full HD in 2006," BBC chief technology and product officer Matthew Postgate said in a statement. "Now, with these trials, we’re giving audiences yet another taste of the future."