MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred: Virtual Reality is Next Big Sports Tech

Major League Baseball is working on new ways to bring virtual reality technology into the sport, Commissioner Rob Manfred told the FOX Business Network.

“I think the next big step for us, as all sports, is going to be virtual reality. We just debuted a really interesting mobile exhibit from the Hall of Fame that has virtual reality components to it, and it’s the beginning of us working into that area,” Manfred said during an interview on Mornings With Maria.

The Baseball Hall of Fame Tour, which was officially announced at the famous “Field of Dreams” movie site in Iowa last month, is scheduled to travel to six cities this year: Davenport, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, St. Louis and Las Vegas. Some well-known artifacts will be part of the mobile exhibit, including the glove worn by Willie Mays for his over-the-shoulder catch in the 1954 World Series.

Jaunt VR, a California-based company that creates 360-degree videos, captured footage of several teams, including the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs, to be used as part of the Hall of Fame Tour. According to its website, Jaunt VR develops cinema-grade video content for devices such as Facebook’s (NASDAQ:FB) Oculus Rift and Samsung’s Gear VR.

“It is an amazing technology. The headset’s a little much for me right now, but I’m sure it’s going to get smaller, lighter and better as we move forward,” Manfred said.

Manfred, who took over as MLB’s top executive in January 2015, added that technology is helping the sport reach a younger demographic. While baseball’s broadcast audience is on the older side, and mobile apps like At Bat are popular with younger fans. At Bat is opened eight million times each day, and the average age of At Bat users is under 30 years old.

“We feel like we are reaching a younger audience in a little different way, and we intend to continue to use technology in order to have a younger and younger audience attracted to the game,” Manfred said.

The commissioner also noted during the interview that MLB officials continue to work with the players’ union on a new collective bargaining agreement. The current deal expires on Dec. 1. According to Manfred, members of his staff are meeting with union members in Chicago on Tuesday.

“I’m optimistic we’re going to be able to make another deal,” Manfred said.