The bandwagon for NFL teams using augmented reality to engage fans isn't exactly full, but it is starting to get a bit crowded.
Each app now comes with AR camera effects, allowing fans to virtually paint their faces in team colors along with several different designs. As the experience is sponsored by Bud Light, there's also a beer-can helmet filter.
Like football players graduating from college to the pros, AR ideas make their way up the food chain, too. For this college football season, Nissan sponsored face-painting camera effects for Facebook's iPhone and Android apps, as well as standalone apps for iPhone and Android for those people who "don't do Facebook."
In comparison, the effects on the NFL app implementation are a bit sloppy, and only offer static photos. The aforementioned college football apps offer photo and video effects, both of which are a bit more precise in terms of face-tracking. (Also, Roll Tide. But I digress.)
The Broncos, the Eagles, and the Texans join the New York Jets, the Green Bay Packers, the Seattle Seahawks, and the Kansas City Chiefs, all NFL teams that have updated their apps this season with AR features, which enhance the game experience in the stadium and outside of it.
But football isn't the only sport aggressively exploring AR sports marketing opportunities. Major League Baseball (MLB) Advanced Media's ARKit update to the MLB At Bat app was featured during Apple's latest iPhone X launch event. The sports league also added an AR experience to the MLB Ballpark app for World Series attendees.
The National Basketball League is yet another sports league testing the AR waters. Over the summer, the Sacramento Kings unveiled new uniforms through an AR feature within its team app. Coinciding with the launch of the season, the league also launched NBA AR, a basketball game built with ARKit that doubles as a means to sell tickets and premium TV packages.
With live game arena experiences, each league faces the same dilemma: while they make money from the TV broadcasts and game attendance, the former cannibalizes the latter. But the latter is where the real money is, so it's possible that AR can become the carrot that gets fans to the stadium.
"When it comes to sports specifically, they're all facing this problem that fans don't want to come to the venue anymore because it's cheaper to stay at home. I've got a great seat, and I'm in the comfort of my own home," said Kevin J. Hart, founder and CEO of AR company Aireal, in an interview with Next Reality. "[With AR] we can bring a broadcast experience to [live games] while you're at a venue and still have that community feeling."