This week we had the honor to interview Albert Palay the CEO of The Dream VR, a leading player in the VR fans experience space.
Throughout our conversation, we talked about how The Dream VR got started, their work with leading pro teams and sports federations like Real Madrid and The Formula One Federation, how their VR fans experience helps pro teams today, what kind of benefits they get from it, especially through their unique e-commerce platform, what their future plans are and his vision of the future of VR fans experience.
?Here’s the full transcript from our conversation with Albert:
Julien Blin – Sports Tech Advisors: So today on our weekly Sports Tech Podcast, powered by Sports Tech advisors, we have the honor to have Albert Palay, the CEO and CEO of the Dream VR, leading VR sports start-up. So Albert, welcome to the show!
Albert Palay: Thank you very much for having me.
Julien Blin: Great. So what I wanted to do today was talk about how the Dream VR got started and then get your thoughts on how your VR fan experience helps the professional teams today, and what kind of benefits they get from it and then lastly, I want to get your thoughts on the future of VR fans experiences. How does it sound?
Albert Palay: Sounds amazing.
Julien Blin: Great. So for the audience, Albert can you tell us about how you guys started the Dream VR?
Albert Palay: Yes of course. I have a co-founder, his name is Pablo Innova. I feel very lucky to be working with him. We were working both in the advertising and digital content and digital e-commerce space when we met. And we started to work on a virtual e-commerce concept just with the VR goggles. We helped virtualize the shopping experience in VR allowing users to virtually shop in some of the world’s most famous shopping streets such as the Fifth Avenue, Rodeo Drive, the Champs-Elysees, and Oxford Street. We built a VR shopping experience that was accessible thorough a VR headset. Then in 2016 we were attending Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, where we saw the keynote given by Mark Zuckerberg. At the time he gave 6000 Oculus Samsung Gear VR headsets to the audience.
Julien Blin: I remember that.
Albert Palay: So we were there and saw his amazing keynote. Zuckerberg was walking in, and in the meantime people were watching it in VR. Zuckerberg made an amazing entrance and it was awesome. That day, we had a revelation. In fact that night we had a dream about Zuckerberg’s keynote when he said, “This is the most revolutionary technology coming up and Facebook is going to lead this revolution”. My co-founder and I thought, “Oh my god this is going to be something huge and amazing”. So that night we started a new concept of television because in almost one century, the television has always been the same..it has not changed much. The TV remains a flat image, so we dreamed about a new type of television where you could take the user or the viewer inside the content. Plus, you could buy content as you were consuming the content..This is a new kind of interactive television where you can buy everything that you are watching.
So, we started our new project about this new VR Shopping experience where you were inside the content and you could buy and interact with the content as you were watching.
Julien Blin: That’s great. So, I know you guys are working with very big teams like Real Madrid, which is a big deal. So, what kind of benefits do they get from it? You mentioned you built an e-commerce experience allowing the fans to buy the content as they are going through a VR experience, right? So what kind of benefits does Real Madrid get from using your VR experience?
Albert Palay: We are build the new generation of the world of television, and we are bringing to the fans a new point of view about their favorite teams. For example with Real Madrid we are releasing new content every week. It’s content for their fans, the kind of content that they would never get through the regular television. In the case of Real Madrid we are bringing content about their favorite players in the locker room, stepping on the stadium grass, or training with other players. And we are bringing this content in VR/360 videos which gives them the opportunity to have this different experience and feel like they are tele-transported there.
What we are doing for Real Madrid brings a huge engagement with their fans. Real Madrid is the first global sports team that have an exclusive 360 and VR channel. That allows Real Madrid to take the fans from around the world, from over 150 and 85 countries inside their content. Our new type of VR/360 content generates a huge engagement, plus we are the only company in the world to have a worldwide patent with an e-commerce platform in 360 video format inside of a smart TV. We are also the only company in the world available in 300 million of smart TVs from Samsung, 50 million of Apple TVs. You can also see 360 images, which makes fans feel like that they are inside the content. Plus, we have an interactive layer with an e-commerce solution. Also we just signed a couple of weeks ago a deal with Fanatics which is the biggest sports e-commerce platform in the world. That deal enable us to sell the associated content from our customers Formula One Federation and Real Madrid within the VR/360 channels that we built for them.
Plus, you can buy merchandising, everything that is available for the team in our platform. That brings a new type of experience for their users.
Julien Blin: That’s great but you guys are also unique as your VR/360 content is also available across various devices like smart TVs, headsets, etc. And you guys are also unique as you can build VR/360 channels for players and athletes. So can you talk to us about this in more details?
Albert Palay: Yes. This is very interesting especially in a team like Real Madrid which is a world’s class soccer team. They generate lots of fans engagement, get a huge amount of sponsorships money, so there is a huge opportunity and VR and 360 video content is an opportunity to bring this to the next level.
Plus the players are interesting because they perform on the field but also have a public/private life. In fact the private life of the players is something that everyone loves to follow and it generates lots of engagement with their fans. As example, we just released the VR/360 channel for Danny Alves who has 40M followers.
Julien Blin: That’s great.
Albert Palay: Danny Alves is amazing as he is fashionista. He loves fashion, music, and cooking. He’s also a very funny guy and he has a very rich private life. So, with our new medium we can show a more human and personal side of the players. Most fans just know the competitive side of the players on the field but they do not necessarily know their private life. So with our 360/VR experience we can bring this magic to life where fans can feel that they are tele-transported there with the player. They can feel like they are there with their favorite player and live with them, when they go through their personal training, or playing football with their friends, or even cook and go shopping with their friends, family, kids, or other players on the beach.
So, this is a great opportunity for celebrities or players to get closer to their fans and share with them their personal life in a new way.
Julien Blin: I think it’s great and I was looking at Cristiano Ronaldo who has 70 million followers on Twitter I believe.
Albert Palay: Yeah.
Julien Blin: So, I could easily imagine someone like Ronaldo using your VR 360 channel where it could provide a virtual training system or exclusive video content, or even items like jerseys, hats that his fans could not find anywhere else. Then a fraction of the fans, let’s say 1% of those fans, could sign up for it as part of a subscription service. So let’s say they pay $5 a month. Then, for those players, it could become a big revenue generator down the road. Would you agree?
Albert Palay: Yeah this is a new way to monetize that experience. In our case our subscription is $0.99 and plus, we are offering Danny Alves’s personal items via our e-commerce channel. I can also tell you that we are currently talking to some other players who are some of the most followed players in the world. We are talking to those players and soon we will have some amazing news to share about that.
Julien Blin: That’s great. So hopefully you can get Mbappe because I’m a big fan of Kylian Mbappe. I’m just joking.
Albert Palay: Yeah.
Julien Blin: That would be amazing.
Albert Palay: He’s in our radar, yeah.
Julien Blin: Okay, great. So, in your opinion, what do you think would be the future of the VR fans experience? What do you think would be the future of that as you are a key player in this space?
Albert Palay: Yeah. Part of my time is spent in traveling around the world to attend conferences and try to find the next big thing.
Julien Blin: Yeah.
Albert Palay: I can tell you that we are working on something amazing and we are starting to do new tests with amazing little cameras that we could use as part of our VR/360 experience. I’ll talk about that later. But, in the near future, you will be able to watch live content of your favorite player. You will be on field through this new small cameras and 360/VR content. We are already testing it in a minor championship, not in major championships but we have done some amazing tests where you will be able to see the view of the referees. But in the future fans will be able to experience the games live as Messi, Ronaldo, or Kylian Mbappe. Fans will be able to choose the point of view of the specific player that you want to be in and live matches that you want to watch through this new player centric experience.
Julien Blin :Are you saying that as I’m watching a championship game between Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain as a fan I will be able to watch the game from Mbappe point of view?
Albert Palay: Yeah, that’s correct.
Julien Blin: So you will be able to watch a live game from the point of view of the player and in VR/360 video, correct?
Albert Palay: Yeah and you will be able to choose the player that you want to be and watch the game in VR/360 video from his perspective.
Julien Blin: Wow, okay that’s great.
Albert Palay: This is the next big thing.
Julien Blin: Okay, great. No I mean, I can’t wait to see that. I think the fans would love it. So, what are the Dream VR plans for the next two years? What are your big goals? What are you trying to achieve?
Albert Palay: We are working very hard and we are already doing some very satisfactory tests. Next year, we are going to start releasing and broadcasting live content with Formula One and La Liga (Spain soccer league) and with many other major championships and leagues around the world, and we will be improving the user experience with a multi-cam point of view with that live content and with the statistics inside the experience so fans will be able to see the speed of players, etc.
Julien Blin: Other type of data like the player’s acceleration?
Albert Palay: Yeah and as a fan you will be able to choose the multi-cam view with live VR/360 video content during major championships around the world next year.
Julien Blin: I love it. I think you guys are also looking to raise money, correct?
Albert Palay: Yes. That’s correct.
Julien Blin: Right. Great, so look, we are going at the end of the podcast but I wanted to thank you very much for your time today and I wish you the best of luck.
Albert Palay: Thank you for having me and thinking about me.
Julien Blin: Great, it’s my pleasure. Thank you Albert.