The National Football League is one of the biggest, most ubiquitous brands in the entire world of sports entertainment. It’s difficult to capture the visceral, intense, brutality of the sport on-screen, but documentaries, replays, and a slew of films and television series have done their part over the years. But bringing things even closer to viewers is always the goal and that’s exactly what the NFL aims to do in its latest partnership with Google.
Today, the NFL announced an exclusive deal with Google to produce a series of VR videos focused on the NFL that will launch this Thanksgiving Day on YouTube, and eventually on the Google Daydream platform. The exact tenants of this partnership aren’t clear, but it sounds like the series will not appear on other video services such as Within and Samsung VR, or other devices natively, such as the Rift, Vive, or Gear VR. However, it’s worth pointing out that YouTube videos can easily be downloaded and/or accessed on other headsets anyway.
In a press release, the NFL outlined that the video series is being created to focus on “life in and around the NFL — from players, to coaches, to executives, to cheerleaders, to the fans themselves — detailing how each prepares for game day.” It will be produced by NFL Films, the company responsible for the vast majority of the top-tier quality documentaries we’ve seen about the sport over the years.
Stylistically, it sounds similar to many of the programs that are shown on the official NFL Network and HBO. Football Life, for example, highlights the life and struggles of specific players, coaches, and prominent figures, whereas Hard Knocks on HBO follows a specific team throughout training camp prior to a season. There is a wide variety of programming already available, but none of it exists in VR.
As far as actual episode content, the press release goes on to say you will be able to:
“Spend a week with the Philadelphia Eagles defensive line as they prepare for the upcoming matchup and gain exclusive access to the Eagles bench and sideline on game day…Other episodes will give viewers the opportunity to tag along with the Miami Dolphins cheerleaders, experience the distinctive football culture in Green Bay, and take a unique look inside the San Diego Chargers organization, to name a few.”
This is not the first time a major sports brand has gotten involved with immersive media, as the NBA notably released a 360-degree documentary about the 2016 NBA Finals and is currently broadcasting games on VR devices. It’s a great sign for the popularity and growth of VR as a budding new industry.