Coming Sunday: Virtually, it’s the reality of the sports TV biz that it tries to harness the VR experience

livelikeThe learning curve for those involved in the Virtual Reality side of TV sports, and the consumers who are trying to figure out how it enhances the experience, has been somewhat steady and steep since the concept first entered our collective radar.
Fox takes the next giant step forward by offering a VR viewing of Saturday’s MLS Cup — Seattle at Toronto, 4:30 p.m., Channel 11 — that includes the ability to show replays for the first time.

Virtual Reality cameras were on the 18th tee during a practice round for the U.S. Open golf championship at Oakmont Country Club last June. As part of Fox’s five-year deal with NextVR, cameras at Oakmont were at the ninth, 17th and 18th holes offering VR streams from the U.S. Open at Oakmont. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Virtual Reality cameras were on the 18th tee during a practice round for the U.S. Open golf championship at Oakmont Country Club last June. As part of Fox’s five-year deal with NextVR, cameras at Oakmont were at the ninth, 17th and 18th holes offering VR streams from the U.S. Open at Oakmont. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Fox, which has already partnered with Newport Beach-based NextVR on events at the Daytona 500, boxing, college basketball, the U.S. Open golf, soccer and Monster Jam trucks, will be with New York-based LiveLike for this MLS experience. LiveLike and Fox have done three college football games this past season — Ohio State-Oklahoma, Texas-Oklahoma and the Wisconsin-Penn State Big Ten Championship game.
The Sunday experiment includes having the FoxSportsVR app downloaded and authenticated on your iOS or Android device, and there is no need for a set of goggles, although that experience can be enabled on the app with Gear VR for Samsung Galaxy phones.
To every handful of stories we find that calls VR as shifting the paradigm and a real gamechanger, some are a little more hesitant about how it can be implemented, whether it takes away the communal viewing of sports or whether this is just an experiment like 3D-TV that just isn’t consumer viable.
There is a lot of upside to virtual reality as well as augmented reality viewing, which sometimes gets referred to as the same thing. The bottom line these day is trying to create a stadium VIP box experience for those watching a game at home, which virtual reality allows with its ability to see what you are seeing as your head and body move about in the process.
More on the Fox-MLS venture at this link.
After uploading the FoxSportsVR app, there are samples clips of how the experience has worked during a Stanford-Kansas State game as well as some UFC weigh-ins. The fun is shifting the phone around to see all the way around in a 360 motion. It might remind you of the old Disneyland Circle-Vision 360 theater that was in Tomorrowland.


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NFL Week 14 in the L.A. TV market: Taking Stock(ton) in the Rams

julio-rams-atlanta-falconsThe Rams 2.0 are a liability to us all at this point in the struggle for mediocrity. Especially from a TV viewing experience.
Fox has the Sunday doubleheader this weekend, but the unfortunate lock-down of having anything Rams beamed back toward us in this delivery system is asking L.A. to give up a lot. It’s beginning to smell a lot like the old Chargers days, eh?
The Rams-Falcons game lands at the Coliseum on Sunday (1:25 p.m., Channel 11) to a very limited audience (11 percent of the country), and it’s a reflection on the game’s importance that Dick Stockton and David Diehl will be asked to fly out to spend time in the booth with Kristina Pink on the sidelines.
Conversely, Fox has put all its Sunday afternoon guns on the Seattle at Green Bay contest in the same window.
Again, with Stockton’s insertion into the equation, he had the unmemorable call of the Rams’ back in Week 3 with Chris Speilman and we believe Stockton intends to return to the upright position for this one as well.
CBS has one of six games to pick from, but it has to be in the 10 a.m. window.
And suddenly, Thursday night games are worth staying awake for. Taking that a step further, NBC points out that the late games it covers Thursday and Sunday are the first time two prime-time games have been held in the same week featuring teams that have combined for at least a 19-5 record (.792 winning percentage).
Here’s how it falls together:

= Raiders at Kansas City, 5:25 p.m., Channel 4, NFL Network (Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Heather Cox)
= Denver at Tennessee, 10 a.m., Channel 2 (Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts). CBS passes on Pittsburgh-Buffalo (Jim Nantz, Phil Simms), Cincinnati-Cleveland, Chicago-Detroit (shifted over from Fox) and Houston-Indianapolis in the early window.
= Washington at Philadelphia, 10 a.m., Channel 11 (Kevin Burkhardt, John Lynch, Pam Oliver). You’d have thought maybe San Diego’s game at Carolina (Sam Rosen, Brady Quinn) would have to be here, but Fox goes with the game of more national interest and 68 percent coverage. Chargers-Panthers only gets 6 percent coverage, which may be an all-time low. Arizona-Miami and Minnesota-Jacksonville are also bypassed.
= Rams vs. Atlanta, 1:25 p.m., Channel 11 (Dick Stockton, David Diehl, Kristina Pink). St. Louis is part of the 67 percent who see Seattle-Green Bay (Joe Buck, Troy Aikman), but not L.A. Also in this window: Fox’s New Orleans-Tampa Bay (Thom Bennaman, Charles Davis, Chris Speilman) and CBS’  N.Y. Jets-San Francisco (Greg Gumbel, Trent Green)
= Dallas at N.Y. Giants, 5:30 p.m., Channel 4 (Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya)
= Baltimore at New England, 5:30 p.m., ESPN (Sean McDonough, Jon Gruden, Lisa Salters) Continue reading

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Weekly media notes 12.07.16: The 75th Pearl Harbor anniversary, the impact on the 1942 Rose Bowl and WWII, and Brian Curtis’ research project

The 1942 Duke team that played in the Rose Bowl against Oregon State College included quarterback Tom Prothro (second from right, kneeling), a future head coach at UCLA and the Rams

The 1941 Duke team that played in the ’42 Rose Bowl against Oregon State College included quarterback Tom Prothro (53, kneeling, third from left), a future head coach at UCLA and the Rams. Prothro went into the Navy during World War II. (Photo: Macmillen publishing)

514edt6kwwlIn addition to an early week edition of the sports media column posted here that features Brian Curtis’ new book, “Fields of Battle: Pearl Harbor, The Rose Bowl and the Boys Who Went to War,” a  focus  on the players from the 1942 Rose Bowl between Oregon State College and Duke University who soon went off to World War II,  we have these notes worth posting now:

== In addition to Curtis’ book, here’s a short cut to the lists we compiled recently about sports-related books worthy of gift giving this holiday season. We just added a recommendation list from last Sunday’s New York Times.

== Circling back to the Sports Illustrated “Year in Sports Media” Dec. 5 issue, Verne Lundquist took over the back page to talk about his final season of doing SEC football, but the 76-year-old’s final college game will be Saturday’s Army-Navy affair from Baltimore (Channel 2, noon) before he goes back to focus on college basketball and golf for the network.
“I hope to be involved in those events as long as I’m physically able,” he wrote.
Gary Danielson, who has spent the last 11 years with Lundquist has his partner, said it during a media conference call last week prior to the SEC championship telecast: “This is very hard to put into words.  It really is. I don’t let people get inside of me, only people I really, really trust.   So it’s really hard. I expressed a lot of reasons why I took this job. I was searching for a certain thing. I was looking for something a little different, and I really didn’t realize it until I was here (CBS) for about five or six years. What I really was searching for was ‘We.’ I wanted to be part of a team and it’s been a thrill.  I’ve sat next to him on television longer than any other analyst. It’s been a great 11 years. You know my success as a player has been checkered, but I’ll match my last 11 years against anything.”

== ESPN’s full “College GameDay” crew will be in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor for a two-hour edition from 6-to-8 a.m., its third show from the Army-Navy contest.

premiere-lost-son-havana-2009-tribeca-film-rzunttw4gatl== ESPN Films revealed this week that it signed a deal with 11-time Emmy Award winner Jonathan Hock to do, among other things, a two-part documentary on the Lakers-Celtics 1980s rivalry that is scheduled to come out this summer, with Jim Podhoretz as the director.
Hock’s projects that have ended up on ESPN’s documentary menu include “Of Miracles and Men” about the Soviet team that lost to the Americans in the 1980 “Miracle On Ice,” which won the 2016 Sports Emmy for Outstanding Long Sports Documentary. Hock  already has a doc in the ready for ESPN – “One and Not Done” on Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari that airs April 13.

Continue reading

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Play It Forward Dec. 5-11: Clippers-Warriors brings together win leaders

ar-161209774-jpgmaxh400maxw667The Clippers’ Staples Center meeting Wednesday with Golden State (7:30 p.m., ESPN, Prime Ticket) is the first of four regular-season “Game of Thrones”-type throwdowns – all scheduled to be nationally televised — arriving at the quarter pole of the season. Based on their current performances, the Warriors, playing at a .850 clip and winning 17 of their first 20, on a pace to sniff the 70-win mark, but with plenty of opportunity for a slip-and-fall along the way. The Clippers, who managed to turn out of a three-game losing streak after winning 14 of their first 16, already know what that means.
The storylines coming in: Warriors coach Steve Kerr admits to trying marijuana for his back pain after his recent surgery – it didn’t really work – and the Clippers’ Doc Rivers seems to have mellowed out and he’s now fine (and fined $15,000) after his outburst on the last road trip.
More for the week ahead for the Lakers (taking on the Knicks), UCLA (facing Michigan) and the MLB Winter Meetings at this link.



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2016 sports books for the holiday season: They’ve made the short cut

shortcutIt’s worth your time to head over to Wendy Parker’s list of her Top 15 sports books of 2016 at her site.
biblioictureIn addition, here’s a quick reference to the six lists we’ve compiled that break down some choices for the gift-giving season — some we recommend more highly over others, but we realize that the subject matter alone is worth it for some:
== Best sellers that may catch your eye first
== The ones we earmarked during the course of 2016
== General interest that may go under the radar
== Larger than life (coffee-table sized)
== Football, soccer … whatever kicks it
== Top shelf contributions from hockey
== And then there’s Roland Lazenby’s “Showboat: The Life of Kobe Bryant”

Bonus list:
== The New York Times’ Sunday book review section of recommended books posted today lists:
= Price’s “Playing Through the Whistle” (on our “Best Sellers” list)
= Jessica Luther’s “Unsportsmanlike Conduct: College Football and the Politics of Rape” (released Sept. 6)
819z3htxisl= Alejandro Danois’ “The Boys of Dunbar: A Story of Love, Hope and Basketball” (released Sept. 13)
= Art Chansky’s “Game Changers: Dean Smith, Charlie Scott and the Era that Transformed a Southern College Town” (released Oct. 17)
= Phil West’s “The United States of Soccer: MLS and the Rise of American Soccer Fandom” (released Nov. 14)
= Dave Hannigan’s “Drama in the Bahamas: Muhammad Ali’s Last Fight” (released Aug. 2)

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