UCI Track Champions League enters the Metaverse for enhanced fan engagement
The upcoming International Cycling Union (UCI) Track Champions League in London is set to take a significant step into the metaverse, courtesy of Warner Bros. Discovery Sports Europe, the sports division of the media conglomerate.
The events division of WBD Sports, responsible for managing the Track Champions League in collaboration with UCI, will partner with technology firm Infinite Reality (iR) to embark on an innovative journey that harnesses Web3 technology to deliver on-demand content to fans across the globe.
After a successful trial period and further development of the platform following the conclusion of the 2022 season, this novel experience will be fully accessible later this week leading up to the two final rounds of the 2023 campaign, which are scheduled to take place at London’s Lee Valley VeloPark, a venue known for its role in the 2012 Olympic Games.
Within a virtual velodrome and a specially designed event village, the metaverse platform will introduce several key features. Fans who are unable to attend the velodromes in person will have the opportunity to connect and engage with each other during races. Viewers will witness real-time data displaying riders’ heartrates, cadence and power output, providing a deeper insight into the physical demands of the sport.
The platform will also offer on-demand content, including race highlights and the official docuseries Back On Track, which follows the riders during Season 1. Additionally, viewers can choose from up to eight live camera feeds during race events, with one feed dedicated to an exclusive metaverse reporter who will provide behind-the-scenes coverage and exclusive interviews.
Following the races on Friday and Saturday evenings, former UCI World Champion Matthew Richardson and reigning Olympic Champion Kelsey Mitchell will engage in the first live meet-and-greet sessions. Fans from around the world will have the opportunity to discuss recent performances with these champions in real-time.
This venture into the metaverse is aligned with the evolving landscape of sports engagement. Recent studies by the National Research Group (NRG) indicate that technology plays a significant role in the sports experience for 53 percent of sports fans, with 78 percent using a second device while watching live sports.
“It is the perfect time to launch this unique new metaverse experience to capitalise on the heightened awareness and participation in the series to engage fans on an even deeper level… This is just the start and we’re confident this new experience will take the sport even further into the future to support the continued growth of track cycling,” Vice President of Cycling Events at WBD Sports Europe Chris Ball said.
WBD Sports operates the Track Champions League in partnership with UCI, managing various aspects such as event management, TV production, distribution, and commercial and media-rights sales during an initial eight-year term.
The 2023 Track Champions League commenced in Mallorca, Spain on October 21, followed by Berlin, Germany a week later. Round three took place in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, France, on November 4, and the season will conclude with rounds four and five in London on November 10 and 11.
This move into the metaverse reflects a broader trend in the sports industry, with other organisations like Major League Baseball, the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, which hosts Wimbledon, and Tennis Australia also exploring the metaverse as a means to enhance fan experiences.