Apple this week released a brief highlight reel of the Major League Soccer 2023 playoffs as an Apple Immersive Video viewable by anyone with a Vision Pro. The impressive footage is a great demo for what sports could be like with immersive video, but there’s a long way to go for it to become a real draw.

Update (March 29th, 2024): Apple has released a roughly five minute immersive video highlight reel of the conclusion of the 2023 MLS season. Apple Immersive Video is the company’s immersive video format which captures stereoscopic 8K footage at 180 degrees. Compared to 3D, video which is like a small window into a scene, immersive video like this wraps around you making it feel like you’re actually standing in the scene itself.

The newly released MLS short is an impressive demo, featuring excellent video and audio quality, with shots that really make you feel like you’re standing right next to the subjects. Some shots show perspectives that people would normally never get to see in first-person themselves, like being right on the sidelines, behind the goal, or even in the locker room celebrating alongside the winning team.

Anyone with a Vision Pro can view the short (no Apple TV+ or MLS Season Pass required).

It’s all quite impressive, but to really draw a viewership into the headset, people are going to need more than highlight reels. Not only will they want to see full matches this way, but seeing them live is also crucial for sports. There’s something alluring about seeing the action unfold in real-time, and many fans won’t go back to watch matches that have already finished.

This has always been a chicken-and-egg challenge for immersive sports video. Capturing an entire game like this—and broadcasting it live—is difficult from both from a cost and logistical standpoint.

But Apple Immersive Video has one key advantage that very few do: social viewing.

The company’s SharePlay feature makes it incredibly easy to watch synchronized content with friends through FaceTime. I’ve long said that social viewing is especially important for watching sports in VR, since cheering with others is a huge part of the sport event experience. The vast majority of immersive video startups focusing on sports have released content in VR without any way to experience it with friends. For many, that’s a non-starter, no matter how great the visual or audio experience may be.

For now Apple Immersive Video social viewing in FaceTime supports multiple viewers, but drops to audio-only while the footage is playing. Hopefully this will eventually support Apple’s ‘Persona’ avatars.

The original article, which covers the announcement of the Apple Immersive Video MLS release, continues below.

Original Article (February 26th, 2024): Apple TV is the exclusive provider of online Major League Soccer broadcasts via the MLS Season Pass subscription. The company recently announced the kickoff of the 2024 MLS Season. It will include new Apple Immersive Video footage with content from the league’s 2023 playoff series.

“Coming soon,” the company says, “all Apple Vision Pro users can experience the best of the 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs with the first-ever sports film captured in Apple Immersive Video. Viewers will feel every heart-pounding moment in 8K 3D with a 180-degree field of view and Spatial Audio that transports them to each match.”

This will add to the company’s small handful of Apple Immersive Video content that first became available at the headset’s launch. Some of that content is available for free, but most requires an Apple TV+ subscription.

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It’s unclear exactly what the new Apple Immersive MLS content will cover. It could be full games, game summaries, or just highlights of key moments throughout the playoffs. It’s implied, but not quite clear, if the MLS Season Pass is required to view the new content, or if it will become available to “all Apple Vision Pro users” as the statement reads. We’ve reached out to Apple for clarification.

The 2024 MLS Season Pass is priced at $15 per month or $100 for the season, or for Apple TV+ subscribers, $13 per month or $80 for the season.

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • Christian Schildwaechter

    For those wondering why Apple goes for soccer instead of (American) football for an HMD only released in the US so far: Apple has been talking about sport streaming rights with numerous leagues, not primarily for AVP, but for regular (high bandwidth) AppleTV+ use, as have other digital giants like Google, Amazon or Meta. They also talked to the NFL in 2022, but apparently the NFL didn’t want to negotiate about formats that didn’t exist yet, like AVP Immersive Video. So Apple backed out of the deal and entered a 10 years, USD 2.5bn partnership with Mayor League Soccer that includes developing “future types of broadcasting.”

    Those future types will be based on work by NextVR, who Apple bought in 2020 for USD 100mn. NextVR had offered 180° live sport and event streaming on early HMDs like Gear VR/Oculus Go, partnering with the NFL from 2015-2020. Before the acquisition, NextVR was working on 6DoF light field recording. Lightfield cameras use many small lenses recording the image from slightly different perspectives. From this the final image/light field is reconstructed, allowing the user (limited) 6DoF movement within the recording, compared to just 3DoF head rotation with typical 180°/360° stereoscopic video.

  • Dragon Marble

    Some of that content is available for free, but most requires an Apple TV+ subscription.

    I have watched all the available immersive videos without a subscription. Did I miss anything?

  • Foreign Devil

    From my limited experience with 180 degree 3D high def VR in Quest 3. I think well placed, high quality VR cams on the sports field is going to be a HUGE hit for the wealthy sports fan, on the super high quality screens of Vision Pro. Its going to beat any seat in the stadium for immersion in the game. And I’m not even a sports fan (I love watching music concerts in this format).

    • Christian Schildwaechter

      There were rumors of Apple having made an exclusive deal for an immersive 360° version of the latest Taylor Swift concert tour. Not sure if this went anywhere, and the Era tour is currently streaming (flat) on Amazon Prime.

      Regular tour tickets were priced USD 49-449, USD 199-899 for VIP packages, but the (on average USD 242) 4.3mn tickets sold out in no time for more than USD 1bn total. According to Business Insider/Pitchfork, the average (not peak) secondary market (aka scammers) price for Era tickets has risen to unfathomable USD 3,801. So it would be cheaper to buy an AVP just to see the concert instead of having to buy an actual ticket, in case you weren’t one of the lucky ones that got it at regular price. And of course you wouldn’t have to pay extra for travel and hotels.

      This may be a very extreme case, but there is no doubt a market for high quality events experienced in high fidelity on XR HMDs. Maybe not a huge market today with still lacking HMDs and recording equipment, but most certainly a few years/hardware generations down the line.

      • Daca123

        That exclusive deal may have come to nought precisely because there is a billion dollar worth of ticket sales at stake. I’m sure the tour would not permit any content licensing that would put that revenue at jeopardy. So live VisionPro experiences will likely be limited and expensive.

        Kind of like how ebooks are often more expensive than a physical book, somehow.

      • kool

        I think about this all the time, what could uproot the production industry. In 10 years a virtual set can replace most of Hollywood taking away half my work. They can do this for concerts as well.The only thing keeping concerts relevant is the live experience, but people are becoming more introverted…

        • That The Stones, for example, haven’t done a VR-only concert yet is absolutely baffling to me ….

    • You aren’t kiddin’ about tickets …. lol
      Super Bowl get-in price: $7000.
      Yes indeed: SEVEN. THOUSAND. DOLLARS.
      []^ (

  • They’re making good use of NextVR technology, it seems

  • Ian Shook

    Can you post the link to the short?

  • ViRGiN

    damn, apple has beat valve in everything VR/AR/XR related. who would have ever thought, outside me?
    shame on you volvo.

  • Always been a HUGE VR sports coverage advocate ….
    Is there at least a sample immersive video on YouTube or somethin’?
    []^ )