Intel Gets Real With New MLB Pact, Bringing VR, Live-Stream Games Into Your Home
Thursday, June 1, 2017 at 06:06PM in Facebook, Intel, MLB, MLB, Twitter, VR, live-stream, sports media

By Barry Janoff

June 1, 2017: If you show it via virtual reality, will they come?

MLB says, just as in Field of Dreams, yes, they will.

MLB and MLB Advanced Media have signed a three-year deal with Intel that will see the company live-stream via Intel True VR app one weekly out-of-market game (every Tuesday), in addition to featuring post-game highlights and on-demand replays of each game.

According to Intel, a survey it conducted in conjunction with Turnkey Intelligence among some 500 MLB fans, 71% said they would be interested in watching a MLB game in VR that they are unable to attend; and among avid MLB fans (those who describe themselves as "very interested" in the league), 58% said they would be likely to watch full games in VR .

In addition, about 60% said that more technology would improve their MLB viewing experience.

"As a VR partner of MLB, Intel is delivering a truly immersive virtual reality live-stream where fans can experience the excitement of being at the ballpark every week," James Carwana, GM for the Intel Sports Group, said in a statement. "The addition of live stats to the Intel True VR weekly games is another example of how we’re giving fans more control to personalize their baseball experience."

Intel earlier this year broadcast the March Madness tournament in VR as the VR partner for the NCAA.

The Intel alliance is part of MLB and MLBAM’s strategy to incorporate more technology and social media in to the fan experience.

In May, MLB signed a deal with Facebook to have 20 games this season live-streamed via the platform, joining Twitter, which is now in its second season live-streaming MLB games.

"Baseball games are uniquely engaging community experiences, as the chatter and rituals in the stands are often as meaningful to fans as the action on the diamond," Dan Reed, Facebook head of global sports partnerships, said when the MLB partnership was unveiled.

"By distributing a live game per week on Facebook, Major League Baseball can re-imagine this social experience on a national scale," he said.

The "Intel True VR Game of the Week" will be available free of charge through the Intel True VR app using a Samsung Gear VR headset. (People are being directed to download the Intel True VR app on the Oculus store.)

Access to MLB games via Intel True VR is scheduled to begin with the Cleveland Indians vs. Colorado Rockies on June 6.

The June VR schedule also includes

• June 13: Kansas City Royals vs. San Francisco Giants
• June 20: Detroit Tigers vs. Seattle Mariners
• June 27: St. Louis Cardinals vs. Arizona Diamondback

The remainder of the schedule was not released.

According to Intel, game highlights and on-demand content will also be available to fans free of charge for the 2017 MLB regular season.

Each week, up to four 4K-resolution camera pods (capturing 1TB of data per hour) enable views from home plate, first base, third base and center field in the home team’s stadium. An additional camera placed near center field provides a closer pitcher-batter view, per Intel.

"Intel is delivering a truly immersive virtual reality live-stream where fans can experience the excitement of being at the ballpark every week."

MLB and Intel believe that people will use True VR for 11 or more games, at least according to the Intel survey.

Intel said in the study that 70% of MLB fans who watched at least 11 games in the past year "say they are more likely to think more technology would make the baseball viewing experience better" while 53% of MLB fans who watched ten or fewer games in the last year felt the same way.

According to Kenny Gersh, evp-business for MLBAM, "We are excited to bring the Intel True VR experience to fans around the country every week. Our partnership with Intel will keep MLB at the forefront of technological innovation for our fans, bringing them closer to the action."

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