“This is about what we believe people may be in the future, and how people will consume things in the future,” Scott Gutterman, the PGA Tour’s senior vice president of digital operations, said. “Now, our goals are to bring our players and events to people no matter where they want to consume our events and how they want to consume it.”
Apple’s entry has added a jolt of energy to the AR/VR world that has been around for decades but often felt years away from relevance. The headset has been met with generally positive reviews, though its price tag of $3,500 means it is not expected to see widespread adoption. Other investments in VR technology have struggled to gain traction.
Sports leagues have been eager to embrace augmented and virtual reality technology even in its nascent form. The NBA offers courtside experiences on Meta’s Quest headsets, and the PGA Tour created an augmented reality app on Microsoft’s HoloLens. The NFL licensed a virtual reality football game for Meta Quest and PlayStation VR.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver met with Apple CEO Tim Cook on the day of the Vision Pro’s U.S. release, an Apple spokesperson said. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter after the meeting, Silver said, “This, to me, will be how people over time experience sports through the media.”
Silver predicted that other content creators might begin to invest in their own developers and engineers, as the NBA has, to invest in a longer-term future.
Mike Proulx, a vice president at the research company Forrester, said sports leagues want to get ahead of the generation that eventually embraces this kind of technology.
“Leagues like the NBA and MLB who experiment now on this brand-new media canvas will leapfrog in innovation as future versions of the Vision Pro become more accessible, less cumbersome, and attract more users,” he said.
Apple is promoting its headset as a revolutionary tool especially for sports fans, touting it as offering the “best seat in the house.” Sporting events are frequent, drenched in data and emotionally charged. Proulx called live sports a “fertile use case for the immersive and interactive nature of spatial computing.”
The Vision Pro has already made some waves among content creators who have featured its apps in videos. YouTuber and Lumosity content creator LG Wynnsanity tweeted a video showing how he could stream multiple NBA games at once, view real-time player statistics and continuously add new screens to his interface. The video has gained over half a million views.