We’re back with another sports technology blog, examining some of the latest developments in the sports technology industry and how it impacts the football landscape. Here is the latest news from this past week.

Cruz’s tech views: While former NFL receiver Victor Cruz ponders his next move post-playing days, it sounds as if the sports tech arena has his attention. He was recently asked to speak at an Advertising Week event in New York on how mobile technology and data are influencing the future of sports. Regarding virtual reality, Cruz is excited about what’s ahead. “I think just me, from a fan perspective, if I’m able to put on a headset, the VR headset, and be at the 50-yard line to watch Eli Manning at the 30 and I’m behind him and I can see the entire (play)—in real-time—that’s a game-changer,” Cruz said. He also said he believes Instagram has increased fan engagement. “To be able to be somewhere live and stream it, and everyone can tune into your live channel and see where you are, and pretty much walk up to you if they’re a block away or two blocks away, I think that’s also a game-changer.” Don’t be surprised if we hear from Cruz again on these topics in the near future.

NFL brings back NextVR: Speaking of virtual reality, the NFL and NextVR are back for a second season to bring fans an immersive post-game experience, featuring highlights from five 2017 NFL regular-season games. The show will be hosted by former NFL running back Reggie Bush and broadcast personality Elika Sadeghi. Each post-game highlight will showcase the best VR moments from the game and be available to fans on demand. Content will be available for free to fans worldwide on the NFL channel in the NextVR app following each scheduled VR game. The move signals the NFL’s interest in expanding its VR capabilities, though the league is still in the experimentation phase. Games scheduled for broadcast for NFL VR are as follows:

  • Packers at Vikings, Sunday, Oct. 15
  • Chargers at Patriots, Sunday, Oct. 29
  • Cowboys at Falcons, Sunday, Nov. 12
  • Broncos at Raiders, Sunday, Nov. 26
  • Cowboys at Giants, Sunday, Dec. 10

Amazon releases TNF totals: We previously discussed how Amazon paid $50M for streaming rights to the NFL Thursday Night Football package, five times more than what Twitter paid last year. So, what did it earn them? Amazon reports that Amazon Prime Video, broadcasting the NFL Thursday Night Kickoff pregame show and Thursday Night Football, reached 1.7 million combined viewers in 184 countries and territories and all 50 states, with an average worldwide audience watching for at least thirty seconds hitting 391,000. That’s a mega worldwide demographic, which is probably why Amazon is charging $2.8M for ad packages, according to Reuters. In comparison, the average viewership on Twitter during the 10 live-streamed games was 266,000 last season.

Parting Shot: Social media can be a useful resource for breaking news, as it happens. At the same time, it can also be a very dangerous and costly tool. We often preach to young athletes about the penalties for social media misuse but the warning should be heeded by everyone. The latest example comes from 24-year NFL veteran OL coach Chris Foerster of the Miami Dolphins. A video featuring Foerster went viral Sunday night, which shows him talking into his cell-phone camera before snorting three lines of powdery substance and then stating he was off to a meeting. It didn’t take him long to become an ex-Dolphins coach. Here’s a good rule of thumb to adhere to: assume everything in your phone can/will be hacked. Assume everything on social media can/will be viewed, even if you delete it. So, the next time you hit send, post or record, ask yourself, would I want the world to see this?

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