BT Sport director of mobile strategy, Matt Stagg explains how sports broadcasts might evolve in the metaverse

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Metaverse is a broad term, generally referring to shared world environments that people access via the internet. These are digital spaces which are made more lifelike by the use of Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and Extended Reality (XR), which is a mix of both.

The metaverse is seen as being the next version of the internet.

The term itself is nothing new, having been originally coined by sci-fi author Neal Stephenson in his 1992 novel Snow Crash. He imagined the metaverse as a shared and connected universe within which digital avatars of people could interact with one another.

The concept was introduced to the mainstream in 2018 with the release of the film Ready Player One, where players entered the Oasis, an expansive virtual reality universe where they were able to explore, compete in, and experience different events using their own custom avatars.

The buzz was increased significant recently during Facebook’s rebrand as Meta. CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote, “In this future, you will be able to teleport instantly as a hologram to be at the office without a commute, at a concert with friends, or in your parents’ living room to catch up”.

This is where we see an opportunity for the evolution of immersive sport.

It is expected that gaming and entertainment will initially drive the development of the metaverse where immersive mixed reality will give viewers a ‘like being there’ shared and social experience, and this is where opportunities for sport arise.

Currently for most sports fans the optimum place to watch an event is being there in person. Nothing can beat the atmosphere and excitement of being in a packed stadium. For many people, this is not possible, so the next best thing is to be in front of a big screen watching it with your friends. We feel that immersive technology can bridge that gap and give you a stadium experience from the comfort of your home and still being able to socially interact with friends

BT Sport has been exploring new immersive experiences and is working alongside other parts of BT as well as external partners in the 5G Edge-XR project, ( which aims to demonstrate how 5G networks, in combination with cloud graphics processing units, can allow sports fans to view immersive events from any angle and across a range of devices – including smartphones, tablets, AR and VR headsets, and TVs.

Imagine a situation where you have a virtual season pass at the stadium, with your friends sat around you each week. The fans in the stadium are a mix, with some that are physically there and some that are not. This is where the boundaries between real-life experiences and virtual experiences merge to reflect the way fans want to engage with sport.

Before the launch of smartphones and the launch of 4G, nobody would have been able to conceive people watching sport on their phones. Fast forward to 2021 and the UEFA Champions League final between Chelsea and Manchester City broke records with the biggest spike data ever on EE’s mobile network alone (962 Gbps).

We see the metaverse as an evolution of social viewing, which we are already innovating in. For example, BT Sport launched ‘Watch Together’ in 2021 enabling customers to watch, see and chat with friends in a split-screen view.

matt stagg

 Matt Stagg is director of mobile strategy at BT Sport