Chinese firms using metaverse tech to stream World Cup Qatar 2022

Several Chinese tech firms have been providing sports fans in the country with a “metaverse-like” viewing experience for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 via 5G and virtual reality (VR).

Migu, a subsidiary of China Mobile, the country’s largest mobile carrier, and Douyin, a popular short video-sharing platform, are two notable platforms that have launched metaverse-based live streaming for World Cup 2022 matches.

The two companies have sub-licensed the rights to live and on-demand coverage of the Qatar World Cup, for which Migu and Douyin reportedly paid more than 1 billion yuan, or US$156.3 million, to offer live match coverage with optional commentary.

They co-share with China Media Group (CMG), a state-owned broadcaster, to arrange digital coverage of the tournament. Only Migu China Mobile and Douyin, and the other four channels, are permitted to broadcast the 2022 World Cup.

Migu, Douyin

Migu chief content officer Gan Yuqing announced in July that the platform would establish a “world first” virtual environment where users could watch World Cup matches while wearing VR headsets for an interactive and “surreal” experience.

The company wishes to emulate the success of the Beijing Winter Olympics, which sparked a social media frenzy. Migu’s coverage features notable guest commentators, including Song Shixiong, a seasoned Chinese sports commentator, and four-time Olympic champion Wang Meng, who rose to prominence in China following her memorable performance at the Beijing Winter Olympics.

On Weibo, the Chinese version of TikTok, Douyin promoted the catchphrase “Watch the World Cup live broadcast on Douyin.” The company has invited football stars Fan Zhiyi, Xie Hui, Sun Jihai and Wu Lei to serve as commentators. Douyin’s live streams will also feature celebrities such as an ex-member of the South Korean-Chinese boy group Exo, Lu Han, who has millions of Chinese fans.

Fans can express their opinions in the live chat rooms while watching the World Cup on Douyin from afar. There is also a contest to predict who will claim the trophy. Douyin will distribute coupons for over 100 snack food and beverage brands during the event.

Experts analyses

As a global sporting event, the World Cup has undeniably become a significant opportunity for corporate advertising. You Xi, the co-founder of the Kandong app, recognized that the event would significantly increase the number of users on internet platforms.

According to You, this phenomenon will create an ideal environment to implement new technologies, and the event will significantly boost China’s VR and metaverse industries.

Independent industry observer Chen Jia shared a similar thought. He said that by applying various scenarios in the metaverse of this World Cup, China could also assess the overall performance of the virtual reality industry to secure an early strategic advantage in the sector.

Chen also mentioned that progress had been dawdling since US tech giant Facebook shifted into Meta and proposed the metaverse concept. However, China has been driving development on both the national and corporate levels.

On November 1, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, along with four other government agencies, previewed a five-year plan for 2022 to 2026 to accelerate the growth of the VR industry to surpass 350 billion yuan or $48.1 billion.

The plan is to establish a goal of significant innovations in critical technologies such as three-dimensionality and improve the ecosystem so that VR can help promote economic development.