The NFL‘s ratings have been falling alarmingly this year. Whether that’s because of godawful play, continued concern about the consequences of player head injuries, the fact that domestic violence is still tolerated, or the on-field politics practiced by Colin Kaepernick, there has to be real concern in the league office.
While the NFL hasn’t been on board with some technological advancements—like, for some reason, not allowing its teams to tweet out GIFs—it has become interested in virtual reality. A few weeks after the NBA committed to showing a game every week in VR, the league has announced that NFL Films will produce American sports’ first VR series that shows how players, coaches, executives, and cheerleaders prepare for gameday.
“We are always looking for new ways to engage with our fans. Virtual reality is an emerging platform that enables content experiences with a truly unique vantage point that brings fans closer to the game,” Vishal Shah, the NFL’s senior VP of digital media, said in a statement. “It’s an exciting new medium to explore as we look to evolve and grow our offerings, and this partnership with Google is an important step in that direction.”
The series is being filmed now with Google Jump, which consists of 16 cameras arranged in a 360-degree system. Included among future episodes will be time spent with Philadelphia Eagles defensive linemen as they prepare for a game, Miami Dolphins cheerleaders, and the San Diego Chargers.
This kind of production is probably a sign of what’s to come for the NFL—and for its fans who might not want to pay hundreds of dollars for tickets and parking but who will spend money on the best way to watch a game from home.
“Imagine you could pay $20 for a seat the 50-yard line,” Max Cohen, a VP of mobile technologies at Oculus, told Bleacher Report. “That’s not 5-10 years away. It’s sooner than that.”