Learfield’s Digital SVP Scott Carlis Is Bullish on VR Deal With STRIVR Labs
120 schools are primed to play in the virtual-reality sandbox
When Learfield struck a virtual-reality–distribution deal with STRIVR Labs last month, it was a major step forward in expanding the experimentation in VR across the collegiate–sports-video industry.
The multimedia-rights holder represents 120 collegiate sports properties and now has the unique opportunity to leverage the scale of its portfolio to spread VR experiences to universities nationwide.
“This medium is perfect for the highly passionate, community-focused collegiate sports fan,” says Scott Carlis, SVP, digital media, Learfield. “The opportunity is great [for our schools] to bring added value to that in-the-moment experience and share it among their community of fans.”
At first glance, it may look like a purely cosmetic deal to make STRIVR Labs the Official VR Partner of Learfield, but the partnership is very hands-on and will involve working directly with the video teams at the universities’ athletic departments that wish to participate.
“What we liked was the multidimensionality of their platform, in terms of the work they can do from a training standpoint, their 360 programming, and their expertise in working at the collegiate-sports and professional-sports level,” says Carlis. “The experiential stuff is really cool. It’s not just about engaging or immersing in the 360 experience, which by itself is incredible, but the interactive game-ification of those experiences, I think, is what’s unique about the STRIVR partnership for us.”
Training is already under way at selected universities with the goal of having content to present to the public in the fall at the start of the next college football season.
Carlis, meanwhile, is very bullish on VR for the simple fact that it provides a tremendous opportunity for brands and sponsors to work themselves into new marketing opportunities.
“The beauty of digital and interactive is, it allows brands to underwrite these experiences that provide an additional level of value,” says Carlis. “As opposed to spots and dots and traditional sorts of messaging, now these brands have the chance to play the hero in these experiences. When you think about the opportunity to authentically integrate these brands into these virtual-reality experiences, you have 100% engagement. You have that headset on, and you are immersed in that experience, and, if you do that in a cool and smart way, it creates more brand love for the advertisers associated with those awesome experiences.”
STRIVR has extensive experience in building VR experiences having worked with such brands as ABC, Pepsi, Visa, Lowe’s, the Chicago Bears, Boston Red Sox, New York Rangers, the PGA TOUR, and U.S. Soccer.
As an added bonus for Learfield and the universities that will play in the VR space, STRIVR’s data platform will generate insights based on user behavior and engagement within VR environments, insights that are unique to the medium and useful for brands.