Showcased at CES 2023, the Proof of Concept (PoC) video reveals avatars interacting in a virtual version of Etihad stadium, Manchester City’s home. The PoC also includes Sony’s Hawk-Eye Innovations, which uses skeletal tracking for virtual recreation. The prototype at the exhibit showed Sony’s system to distribute live 3D video for visitors to experience Manchester City players in a 3D metaverse space.
“Through this PoC, Sony will support Manchester City to further increase the value of its content and engagement with its fans around the world,” said Toshimoto Mitomo, Officer in charge of Intellectual Property and Business Incubation Platform at Sony.
Multiple sports leagues are finding value in community building through the metaverse. In May 2022, Italy’s Serie A league broadcasted a soccer game in the metaverse. Besides watching the game, players could play related games, check live statistics, and make their avatars wear branded t-shirts. In September 2022, Spanish football league La Liga joined Decentraland, an Ethereum-based metaverse.
One of the reasons for this shift towards the metaverse is the need to cater to a younger audience. With people spending more time online, offering the possibility of watching the games with friends digitally is a way to retain viewers. It helps sporting brands to engage their global audience and fans to feel more present even if they are thousands of miles away.
The Italian Serie A initiative and the Manchester City PoC is a relatively new application of the metaverse, which involves the broadcasting of live games. Web3 applications in football are most often in the NFT space, featuring fantasy leagues and play-to-earn games. Some examples of these include FIFA’s collaboration with web3 based games, and blockchain fantasy games like Sorare teaming with national sports teams.