The NFL and Google announced this week they’re teaming up on an exclusive virtual reality series that will give viewers a behind-the-scenes looking into NFL life – from “players, to coaches, to executives, to cheerleaders, to the fans themselves,” the companies said. The nine-part series will focus on how everyone prepares for game day, and will begin airing on YouTube on Thanksgiving Day, with a Daydream VR launch to follow.
Announced in October, and hitting stores in a matter of days, Google’s Daydream VR headset has been created for Android phones, including the new Pixel and Pixel XL. While designed to be easy to set up, comfortable, and affordable ($79), VR is a competitive space, which is why content deals like this will matter.
This series is only available to Daydream, not rival VR platforms.
Google and the NFL already work together on the NFL’s YouTube channel. Under a multiyear agreement, Google is paying multiple millions of dollars for the rights to host the channel, The WSJ had reported back in 2015. It seems that a paid deal with the NFL for this new YouTube VR series is also likely.
After the first episode hits YouTube on Thanksgiving, others will follow throughout the rest of the year, both on YouTube and via the NFL VR app for Daydream.
This is the first time the NFL has produced VR content, having only experimented with the technology last season, notes Google. This is also the first episodic sports program to be produced in VR.
The videos, which are in production now, are being shot with Jump, Google’s 360-degree camera and capture system.
The debut episode will let fans spend a week with the Philadelphia Eagles defensive line as they prepare for the upcoming game. Other episodes will include the Miami Dolphins cheerleaders, the football culture of Green Bay, and will take a look inside the San Diego Chargers organization.
“We are always looking for new ways to engage with our fans. Virtual reality is an emerging platform that enables content experiences with a truly unique vantage point that brings fans closer to the game,” said Vishal Shah, Senior Vice President, Digital Media at the NFL, in a statement about the new series. “It’s an exciting new medium to explore as we look to evolve and grow our offerings, and this partnership with Google is an important step in that direction.”