The Future of Baseball on TV – GoPro + Catchers [Business Ideas]

I am really excited about the Oculus Rift, the Virtual Reality gaming platform – I’ve been heavily interested in virtual reality since I was a kid. Relating to this, I really liked the idea of Scottie Pippen Slam City for the Sega CD, which was first person full motion video (another game feature I loved in the 90’s) virtual reality-like sports. You can play basketball through the eyes of the basketball player.

The game wasn’t very good, but it almost seems like we’re closing in on the technological advances to make such a game a reality.

Beyond this, after attending both Oakland Athletics and San Francisco Giants games this past week, I really noted how fast sports is when you see it up close and live. The speed of the game is something you can appreciate, which I don’t get the same feel for watching from the upper decks or on TV. There’s some disconnect and it’s easy to dismiss how good the players really are from far away.

This is especially true with pitching and hitting and baseball. At the Giants game, I was sitting right behind the visitor’s bullpen and could see pitchers throwing up and throwing in the low 90’s. I also had a great angle to see Madisom Bumgarner throw as well. On TV, with the center field camera, it’s easy not to get a feel of how fast these pitches are. But up close, 90’s is extremely fast. And to think how fast a 97 mile per hour fastball could be to a hitter, yikes!

That’s how I was reminded of this recent Businessweek article on GoPro, GoPro Goes Big as a Hybrid Media Company/Videocam Maker.

I’d love to see more footage shown from the hitters’, catcher’s, and umpire’s perspective, so you can get a better feel of what Sergio Romo’s slider looks like and the time you really need to react to a high octane fastball that has just a bit of movement. I want to be able to be fooled while watching live, swinging and missing with my eyeballs. What does  a knuckleball look like when it’s good versus when it’s bad?

I think this is where GoPro can have an impact. You can see some of the potential here:

In these examples, we can tell it’s not quite so perfect yet to get the right angle. But I do think this should be the next evolution in TV coverage. From a financial perspective, it may just feel like another cost to Major League Baseball, and perhaps that is true. it’s also enriching the overall media experience, which is a continued process in competing with other entertainment options. On the other hand, I think it’s a great opportunity for a sponsor like GoPro or another company that wants to sell the technology to mass market consumers (think of baseball players at the youth level). I also think it’s possible to ask fans to pay extra for the content, such as the “All 22” footage that the real NFL coaches go by, not the cropped footage we watch on TV.

Beyond this, I would love to see a slick interface on top of a catcher or umpire’s view video. Imagine getting pitch recognition and speed information from this view. The biggest reason why I like this view is because it reminds me of playing High Heat Baseball for the PC many years ago.

What do you think, would you want footage like this when watching baseball on TV? Let me know your thoughts!

2