Right Formula’s Tim Silvey explores opportunities for fans and brands across the new online landscape.
The metaverse has been coming for some time. You can already slip into your Oculus headset and test a new car from the comfort of your favourite chair, or take a tour of a luxury country house while sipping tea in your one-bed flat. But, as technology advances, so too does the possibility in the metaverse, or Web 3.0.
For the layman, let’s look back before we peer forwards. Remember the days of dial-up internet? Telling your mum to hang up the phone to free up the line so you could encourage AOL Online to stutter into gear? Scrolling through Myspace or searching Alta Vista for something that wasn’t targeted to you because Alexa heard you say it? You could describe Web 1.0 as a catalogue, an online brochure or the Yellow Pages. No interaction, no engagement, no data, just…reading.
Web 2.0 moved up a gear. We saw user-generated content: blogging, social tagging, targeting, instant and smart content, tailored to the individual. The internet of things…smart appliances serving your every whim.
However, the web has moved on again. It’s evolved. Before we address how the metaverse impacts the sports industry, though, let’s look at what it is.
The metaverse is still the internet, but it’s more connected and immersive. Currently the internet is something we look at and interact with from the outside, whereas the metaverse is something that we look at, but from the inside. We will be able to experience the metaverse as a virtual impression of ourselves that we use to explore the worlds, stores, services, games and experiences that exist within it. Linear is out, immersive and spatial is in.
A certain Mark Zuckerberg described the following:
“We’ve gone from desktop to web to mobile, from text to photo to video. But that’s not the end. The next platform will be even more immersive. The embodiment of the web where you’re part of the experience yourself, not just looking at it. That’s what we call the metaverse.”
To experience the metaverse? Well, that’s easy. It will always be with us, through our mobile devices, VR headsets and wearables that allow us to enter, see, feel sensations and touch. In the blink of a virtual eye, we’ll fill our virtual lives with virtual homes and pets. You might even need to visit your virtual barber for your avatar to get a virtual haircut. The metaverse economy is ready to explode with paid services.
But how does this impact the sports industry?
Let’s imagine you’re a Formula 1 fan but can’t get to your local Grand Prix. The real-world venue is sold out or travel is prohibitive. That’s no problem in the metaverse. Come together with your avatar friends in the virtual grandstand, take a tour of the venue, buy merchandise for your avatar to wear and then head to your virtual seat to watch the action. Perhaps you’ll even make your way to the pit wall to watch alongside your favourite Team Principle. Anything is possible.
You’re a sponsor? Don’t worry, the metaverse has you covered, too. Create branded gamification opportunities at half time, give fans the chance to shoot hoops on court or score a penalty on the pitch in front of millions of virtual fans watching from home.
This is a win from a fan perspective but also allows the rights holder and its sponsors to reach a far wider audience. And it’s starting to happen: Manchester City are already creating their virtual stadium to allow them to fill the online Etihad again and again.
There are hurdles, however, real ones as well as virtual ones. The metaverse needs power and policing, and using the blockchain to ensure authenticity consumes huge and unsustainable amounts of energy. All this needs harnessing in the most efficient way possible before it will be widely accepted and adopted.
But the foundations are already firmly in place and the world’s major social networks and tech firms are seeking their seat at the table. So, sit back and watch the metaverse creep into your daily life and soon enough, the new way of consuming sport, and life, will become a reality…virtually of course!
Tim Silvey is a Senior Account Director at Right Formula.