The World Chess Championship Match, to take place in New York in November of 2016, is to be broadcast live in 360° Virtual Reality, a global first for any sport.
The VR broadcast of the Match, which will take place between Magnus Carlsen of Norway and his challenger Sergey Karjakin of Russia, will be exclusively available through Worldchess.com.
Ilya Merenzon, the Chief Executive of World Chess by Agon Ltd, the commercial rights holder to the World Chess Championship, said: “We are proud to announce that chess, one of the oldest sports in the world, is creating a global first: a totally new and immersive way of watching a contest that will captivate hundreds of millions of new and existing fans.”
World Chess has teamed up with Livestream to create the unprecedented viewer experience that will place the audience closer to the action than ever before.
As well as the 360° video stream there will be a number of other cameras within the players’ arena to provide multiple angles on the match.
The online broadcast will include commentary in multiple languages, with guest appearances from celebrity chess fans, a chess analysis engine so viewers can gain an insight into the players’ strategic decisions, as well as a host of other features.
“Everything we are doing is designed to enable viewers to get into the minds of the players. This is the first Chess World Championship for the smartphone generation,” Mr Merenzon added.
Livestream, the leading provider of live video services, is the broadcasting partner of the Championship Match.
A spokesperson for Livestream said: “We are excited to be the streaming partner for the World Chess Championship at a time when the broadcast and overall presentation of the game is being transformed by Agon."
Chess fans can sign up to receive the VR broadcast by registering at www.worldchess.com. A season pass for the 12 round Championship Match will cost $15, or $1.25 per game. The pay-per-view model with advanced premium features, such as full 360-degree broadcast, is expected to significantly add to the commercial prospects of chess as a global sport and increase its appeal to brand partners.
A basic free live broadcast of the Championship Match will also be available to view. It will include a live representation of the game and will be made available to select broadcasting partners and chess federations that agree to join the World Chess affiliate program.
Mr Merenzon said: “We are investing into the 360-degree broadcast because we believe that it is a major commercial opportunity for a sport which has required additional revenue streams to fulfill its global potential.
The millions of dollars in extra revenue that our new model will bring into the game will be re-invested in player prize money, events in the World Chess Championship cycle and in grass roots initiatives.
But we also want to ensure that as many people as possible can follow the Match and recognise that not everyone is prepared to pay to follow the Championship Match - that’s why we will offer a free broadcast as well.”
The 360° Virtual Reality broadcast will be available to view by anyone with a smartphone, tablet or computer or VR device.
Magnus Carlsen, the reigning World Champion, said: “In my opinion, chess has the potential to reach and engage a much broader audience than what we see today. To succeed with this, innovation, and most of all quality in the production and transmission, are key elements.”
The full information about the Championship Match broadcast and subscription options is available at worldchess.com/nyc2016 starting September 12.
You can download the press-materials by clicking at the link.