EE stores to host Chelsea v Arsenal live in virtual reality

Four of mobile network EE's flagship London stores will be allowing consumers to watch this weekend's Premier League football match between Chelsea and Arsenal live in virtual reality (VR).

The move is part of a new trial from broadcaster BT Sport which is filming the game using the technology alongside LiveLike, a VR platform company that allows broadcasters and sports teams to deliver immersive viewing experiences. Football fans can choose from four different viewpoints, and are able to experience the match as if they are pitch-side or sitting in the crowd.

EE's stores being used as part of the trial are in London's Westfield Stratford shopping centre, Oxford Street, Marble Arch and Tottenham Court Road. The match kicks off at 17:30 BST on Saturday 24 September and is being broadcast live on BT Sport.

Many regular match-goers will question the need for such technology, suggesting there is nothing that can beat being present in the stadium to watch their team play, but over the best part of two decades England's most popular sport has become a global commodity and now attracts viewers from all around the world. With a worldwide audience and TV companies paying billions of pounds for the rights to broadcast matches, innovations in watching the game now appear to be a natural part of the journey.

The specific deal between BT and EE comes after BT Group's £12.5 billion takeover of EE was completed in January 2016. The deal, which required clearance by the Competition and Markets Authority, brought together the UK's largest fixed-line business and the largest mobile telecoms business.

Football fans visiting EE stores on Saturday will be able to access VR headsets and tablet devices to use during the match. Other retailers, such as Tommy Hilfiger, Thomas Cook and Virgin Media, have already experimented with the use of VR in their stores as a method of consumer engagement.      

Marc Allera, CEO at CEO, said: "We know that our customers love watching sport on the go and that's why they love the fact they can now enjoy the BT Sport app as part of their EE plan. 

"This fantastic VR trial of BT Sport in four flagship London stores is yet another example of the additional benefits and unique experiences our customers will enjoy now we are part of the wider BT Group."

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