After a first immersive world in February around Stade 2, France Télévisions is experimenting with a second at Roland Garros. Feedback on a topic that everyone is talking about but few realize.
Three months after their first-ever life-size experience in the metaverse, France Télévisions and Stade 2 are back with a new immersive social space test (ESI), placed in the heart of Roland-Garros, in collaboration with the French Tennis Federation. The space will be accessible for free during the tournament via the social virtual reality platform VRChat. You go there in the form of an avatar directly via your PC or using a virtual reality headset (PC VR headsets, Meta Quest 1 and 2). “In this world, we have reproduced all the emblematic places of Roland-Garros and the virtual studio of Stade 2,” explains Vincent Nalpas, director of innovation at France Télévision.
During the visit, we will pass through several places in the tournament village, designed to be almost identical to reality: the legendary Philippe-Chatrier court, the French TV studio, the tournament museum… We can, if we want, take a seat on a seat overlooking a giant screen visible from everywhere broadcasting real TV programs presented by Maxence Regnault, the station’s sports journalist, going to the terrace to help yourself at the bar, visiting the museum, playing tennis.. “Different kinds of interactions are offered: everything is designed so that the visitor does what he wants: he can play tennis against a balcony gun or against another avatar, visit the places, visit the museum, attend live daily broadcasts or even interact with Maxence if they are in the same instance (The virtual platform is organized in such a way that a world consists of an unlimited number of instances, each containing 40 avatars that can communicate with each other, editor’s note.)”, describes Vincent Nalpas. “Our journalist can switch bodies. We can also imagine dedicating an instance to a private event, a press conference, etc.”
Everything revolves around the visit of the property with the guests of France 2
Providing different opportunities for interaction is the first goal of this second experience, after the trial set up in February, still around the Stage 2 program, but in a winter setting. “The goal of our first trial was essentially technical. Despite everything, 1,200 people came to visit us. There weren’t really any opportunities to communicate. That’s why we wanted to set up a new space here at Roland-Garros and build content with the sports department,” explains the innovation director of France Télévisions.
While it’s impossible at the moment to see tournament matches in the metaverse, as FTV’s broadcasting rights are obviously not global, it’s all about visiting the venues with France 2 guests. The animations will be over the water and according to the possibilities done. “There is no exact or fixed format yet, nothing is fixed in this experiment. The idea is to let Maxence and his guests walk around the world and let visitors discover, as was the case the day before yesterday with Nelson Monfort who showed the museum with us visited and commented on the posters.” The pellets, half an hour or barely a few minutes, are then rebroadcast on the metaverse. Some will be pushed on social networks to promote the experience.
Cameras in the virtual space also make it possible to film what is happening there. “It’s a laboratory for us to imagine and test how we can interact with these different cameras to design other formats and mini-shows and observe how the audience reacts, whether they are receptive or not,” says Vincent Nalpas. “We need to anticipate the use of tomorrow, even if we don’t know yet if they will grab our audience. We need to understand what it means to work on Web3 and the metaverse. This means very concretely identifying the skills that we need and how this will affect the production of our content,” specifies Encarna Marquez† digital director of France Télévisions.
“These are all opportunities to earn money for our management”
The second lesson learned from the very first experience in February, and which is well used today, is indeed about technical skills. If the first immersive space was entirely designed and produced by the company VRrOOm (the same start-up that teleported Jean-Michel Jarre to the virtual concerts he gave at the 2020 music festival and at Notre Dame de Paris on December 31 of the same year , in the midst of a health crisis), because this second world FTV has already been able to partially rely on its teams. “We are increasing our skills: not only are we learning to develop these different assets, which require know-how from gaming, 3D, IT, hosting, but we are also better positioned to handle the internal teams and the external resources that need to be developed in the future. these projects are allocated”, explains Vincent Nalpas.
Any place also lends itself perfectly to advertising placements such as in real life, around the courts, in the bar, around open spaces for display, etc. “These are all monetization opportunities for our management that we can to fund these worlds in the future,” he adds.
It is precisely the future that takes center stage: these tests are today regarded as a more than obligatory passage for the public broadcaster, which must position itself and be ready for use, although still very uncertain, but which it is no longer possible to ignore. Gen Z already spends 26% of their time on Web3 platformers (Fortnite, Roblox, Minecraft…,, editor’s note) : For these generations, gaming is the new television, with its interactions and communities. At the same time, these target groups are very sensitive to environmental issues: will they agree to a model whose ecological impact is significant? As public media, we have a duty to ask ourselves this question. All of this will have an impact on the way the public wants to build this future with us”, analyzes Encarna Marquez. But not only that: “We are also exploring the possibilities of Web3 in the short term and especially the way in which this market is organized must be. It is essential that French and European players and regulators position themselves there so that the promise of web 3.0 – a decentralized internet controlled by users and no longer dominated by a few platforms – can be fulfilled,” she concludes.†