ESL, SLIVER.tv, a next-generation esports 360º virtual reality entertainment platform, and VR production studio WonderWorld VR have announced that they are partnering up to produce the first ever esports event to be live streamed to fans worldwide in VR at ESL One New York on October 1-2.
Events such as the Olympics have been broadcast in VR for the first time this year, and esports is next up. SLIVER.tv raised $6.2m (£4.7m) in funding recently, a staggering amount for a company which was only founded in 2015.
Of course there is an undeniable link between esports and VR; esports fans tend to be tech savvy and willing to spend on memorable experiences. A recent Newzoo report showed that there is a strong correlation between buying intention and interest in esports. Over half of esports enthusiasts and 24% of occasional viewers are planning to buy VR devices in the near future, compared to 12% on the online population.
ESL One New York will be the first esports event broadcast in virtual reality using a platform agnostic method, meaning it will be viewable through a site, on a mobile device, or a VR headset. Fans worldwide can download and install the SLIVER.tv Android and iOS apps to watch in mobile Panorama-360 or using Google Cardboard, as well as on SLIVER.tv’s website.
Those after a premium experience can download the SLIVER.tv GearVR, Oculus Rift and HTC Vive apps to watch in full VR. WonderWorld VR will be producing the “arena experience” and SLIVER.tv will be utilising its LiveVRCast technology for the “in-game 360 experience” at ESL One NY for the complete esports event broadcast.
Stuart Ewen, Product Manager ESL, said: “We’re very excited to launch our very first VR live stream from ESL One New York with the help of SLIVER.tv and WonderWorld VR. This new method of broadcasting gives viewers a taste of what it’s like to be in the arena at an esports mega event, and a brand new perspective on top level CS:GO through in-game virtual cameras.
“Esports helped pioneer online video streaming, and we couldn’t be more proud to take the next step into the future of broadcast media with this initiative.”
Mitch Liu, Co-founder and CEO of SLIVER.tv, commented: “We’re looking forward to showcasing our brand new LiveVRCast technology in partnership with ESL. Previously, viewers could only watch recorded clips VOD, rather than live content. This will be the first event to use our turnkey live-streaming platform for tournament, league and team operators to broadcast popular esports games like CS:GO in immersive 360 VR.”
Simon Romanus, CEO and Founder of Wonderworld VR, added: “We are extremely happy to partner with ESL and SLIVER.tv to enable fans to teleport themselves in to the world of esport and experience some truly unforgettable moments in live VR.
“At Wonderworld VR we are always pushing the limits and this unique first-of-its-kind live broadcast with ESL really shows that we are in the forefront of VR.”
Esports Insider says: The potential for virtual reality to team up with esports for a mutually beneficial relationship is huge. The investment in SLIVER.tv is proof of that. We’ll be excited to see the feedback from VR viewers of the ESL One New York.