Virtual reality, ‘e-sports’ trending at Consumer Electronics Show

Matthew Taylor paints in 3D virtual reality at the Intel booth using HTC Vive virtual reality goggles at CES International on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2016. (AP Photo)

(CNN) — Big changes are coming to the way you enjoy your favorite sports on television.

From computer-assisted officiating, to virtual reality access, major sporting leagues like the NBA are investing in the future.

The big theme at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas seems to be virtual reality. 2016 is supposed to be the year when VR makes it big, and leading the way with content provision is the world of sport.

The NBA has broadcast games to virtual reality headsets, and the game’s biggest star, Lebron James, recently starred in his own immersive film.

Opinion is split, however, about whether the technology is truly ready to broadcast live action in this format.

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said “there’s a lot of talk where you can have a front-row seat to the sporting — it doesn’t work. When you look down towards the far basket, you can adjust for the distance and adjust for the depth and all that … (but) with virtual reality, 360 video, right now, it seems so far away, it looks tiny. That’s a problem that we’re not close to solving right now.”

But if the immediate future isn’t in virtual reality, there’s no doubt that the fan experience will soon be improving.

When the Sacramento Kings open their new arena later this year, it will be a tech fan’s dream.

“This arena is going to be the first arena of the 21st Century,” owner Vivek Ranadive said. “The arena’s going to actually check in for you, so when you decide you might want to go to a game, it’s going to connect you with your friends, it’s going to guide you to your parking spot. It’s going to then tell you how to get to your seat. You don’t have to have paper tickets, or even your phone. It’ll recognize you, if you choose to, as you walk in.”

Arguably the biggest technological advance in sports doesn’t even involve what we would consider to be traditional sports. Real-time strategy video games, collectively known as e-sports, are going mainstream in 2016.

With a global audience of more than 300 million viewers for the last League of Legends world championship, this is something perhaps unexpected from the technological revolution. It’s not so much an enhancement for the sports we already had, but a brand-new sport altogether.

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