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This weekend, the world paused for a while to watch the Patriots take on the Falcons in the mother of all sporting events, Super Bowl LI. That's not really what happened at all. The Super Bowl well may be a great sporting event but it's much more than that. More than creative adverts. More than a halftime show. The Super Bowl event experience is definitely more than the sum of its parts.
Anyone that has ever been to a football game will tell you that the game is only a part of the experience. There's the buzz of the crowd, the jumbotron, the tribalism and the excitement of watching your sporting heroes made flesh. Then there's the halftime show. For many spectators, the halftime show is the game.
If you take all of the above and multiply it by about a billion, you end up with the Super Bowl. Since it's conception in the 1960's, the Super Bowl has continually upped its game - and by "game", I mean everything else.
Virtual Reality Event Experience
Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the rising trend in VR at events, this was the first ever Super Bowl broadcast in virtual reality. And it almost certainly won’t be the last. Fox and VR partner LiveLike featured over 20 VR replays, using multiple cameras that the viewer could switch between at leisure. Including cameras in the end zones... Terrifying.
Virtual reality's better-than-you-think-it-would-be little brother, the 360º live video, was also put to good use on Sunday by Hyundai, who bought all three post-confetti ad spots for an epic twist on the traditional soldier's homecoming. The audience were led to believe that soldiers were watching the event from abroad in special pods designed for watching 360º video. In a genuinely tear-jerking moment, it turned out that the troops were in Houston all along, and their families had come to surprise them.
The Halftime show this year, starring Lady Gaga was, as expected, brilliant. Gaga did as Gaga does and if that wasn't enough, the Houston skyline also bore witness to a dazzling display of drones. Featuring some 300 Intel Shooting Star drones, the display saw a sea of stars turn into a giant Star Spangled Banner.
While it may have been the New England Patriots that took home the Super Bowl trophy itself, the real winners of Super Bowl are the audiences. Wherever they might be, and however they might experience it. The Super Bowl is all about experience and this year, it looks like they really nailed it.