As the World Cup progresses, Chinese Internet platforms want to join the event and compete for a large number of sports fans in the country by offering a “metaverse” viewing experience enabled by 5G and virtual reality (VR).
Migu together with Douyin
Migu, a subsidiary of China Mobile, the country’s largest mobile operator, and Douyin, the popular TikTok-like short video sharing platform, have launched a metaverse-based live stream for the 2022 World Cup matches.
Both Migu and Douyin have a sublicense to live stream on-demand coverage of the event in Qatar and share digital coverage with state-owned China Media Group.
While the 2022 World Cup has become one of the most controversial global events this year, the opportunity for media companies to try to boost their traffic statistics is undeniable.
Migu and Douyin’s metaverse-like streaming services are based on 5G Internet and virtual reality (VR). The two Internet companies aim to increase traffic during the tournament, using it as a gauge to develop better metaverse experiences.
The companies reportedly bought the rights to broadcast the World Cup at a very high price. Four other services were authorized to broadcast the event in mainland China.
Gan Yuqing, chief content officer of Migu, said in July that the company would create a unique interactive virtual space to watch the tournament and live stream the event with technologies such as 5G and VR to give Chinese soccer fans a surreal feeling.
On its official Sina Weibo account, Migu announced that it plans to host a “Metaverse World Cup Music Festival” and that a “surprise visitor” from 2070 will appear at the event.
Douyin made the announcement on its official Weibo account with the tagline “Watch the World Cup live on Douyin.” VR headset maker Pico, also owned by ByteDance, said users can watch the World Cup live via its VR goggles, allowing soccer fans to invite friends from afar to their digital living rooms to watch the matches together.
As a global sporting event, the World Cup has enormous influence and has undoubtedly become a necessity for corporate marketing, You Xi, co-founder of the Kandong app, told the Global Times on Sunday, noting that the event will significantly attract much-needed Internet users.
In addition, a soccer match is a perfect stage to apply new technologies, and the event will be a big boost for the VR and metaverse industry in China, You said.
“Since U.S. tech giant Facebook transformed into Meta and proposed the metaverse concept, progress has been slow. But China has led the development both domestically and corporately,” Chen Jia, an independent industry watcher, told the Global Times on Sunday.
The overall goal of the plan is to advance key technologies such as 3D and improve the VR adoption ecosystem to promote economic development.
“Through the application of numerous situations in the metaverse of this World Cup, China also can test the general nice of the economic chain in the area of virtual reality technology, and therefore gain a primary function in the industry,” Chen stated.
However, Guo Tao, a veteran Internet analyst, pointed out that the metaverse as a whole is still at an early stage of development. There are some problems, such as the immaturity of technologies and business models, which need to be verified by the market.
“The application in sports events is mainly in the areas of virtual studios, virtual presenters, virtual events, digital management and others, while the experience is not adequate and product stickiness is not enough,” Guo told the Global Times on Sunday.
On Nov. 1, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, along with four other government agencies, unveiled a five-year plan for the 2022-2026 period to boost the development of the VR industry, aiming to reach a total industry scale of more than 350 billion yuan ($48.1 billion) by 2026.
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