Peter Moore knows a thing or two about making sport work as a business. After all, his time as the boss at videogame developer EA Sports coincided with the boom in online sports competition that still continues today.
And his time running Liverpool FC saw the club win the Champions League and the Premier League, turning the club into a global megabrand all the while keeping diehard supporters on the Kop happy.
Today he sees a new challenge — one that could change how we consumer sports forever.
“The TikTok generation just want to see the touchdowns. They just want to see the goals. So we’ve got to find ways to be able to deliver sports to this generation,” he told City A.M.
For the New York-listed Unity, the solution comes in the form of the metaverse, where fans can access 3D real-time content on their smartphones and tablets.
Unity’s Metacast allows viewers to zoom into every pass, tackle and goal, shifting perspectives and angles in any given match.
The San Francisco headquartered firm have already partnered with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) to illustrate its metaverse capabilities, and have their eyes set on the major leagues on both sides of the Atlantic.
In Moore’s view, not only will interactive 3D technology enhance the fan experience, but it could also reimagine post-match analysis and coaching, especially when it comes to injury assessment for top clubs — coaches could finally see a dodgy tackle from a first-person perspective and speed up recovery time for the most expensive players.
While Unity’s tech is yet to be employed in UK leagues, which Moore blames on data “infrastructure” drawbacks, he said broadcasting giants like Sky Sports and BT Sport are keen to get a slice of this potentially lucrative pie.
The value of global sport broadcasting rights climbed 16 per cent to $52.1bn in 2021, with a wave of long-term deals being signed following a pandemic slump.
New research from law firm and sports specialists RPC also estimates that investments in European sport rocketed 433 per cent to £9.6bn in the past year.
Senior Associate at RPC Josh Charalambous explained that investors view sports as “commercially underdeveloped” and therefore ripe for growth.
“The balancing act requires investors to achieve that without alienating the core, traditional fanbase of that sport or club,” Charalambous said. “After the backlash against the European Super League, financial institutions investing in sports are very conscious that they need to bring existing fans with them.”
Although Moore, who has also headed up EA Sports and Sega, conceded that not all sports fans would be up for analysing games in the metaverse, he said Unity’s mission was about “taking sports to the next level”.
So with the FIFA President Gianni Infantino suggesting that youngsters want more football games, particularly in his push for a more regular World Cup fixture, Moore seems to be gunning for a more interactive one, where broadcasters, sponsors and athletes can cash in on a new type of viewing experience.
Ultimately, metaverse is about putting sports “in the hands of the fan” Moore said — even if they don’t quite know they want it yet.