Sports fans who love to watch games live, but find the experience via TV a bit too removed, now have a way to virtually “be” at their favorites sporting event, thanks to Israeli start-up Vubooo. Vubooo’s “virtual stadium” app brings the game to fans’ phones and tablets, letting them be a part of the action in real time.
Vubooo’s apps — the company has offered an Android app since the beginning of the year, and this week is releasing an app for iOS — are geared for soccer fans, although the technology could be used for baseball, American football, or any other organized sport, says Itav Topaz, who co-founded Vubooo with partner Alon Har-Tal. “While there are tens of thousands of football fans in the stands, there are hundreds of millions around the world who wish they were in the stadium. Vubooo is a virtual stadium that enables the engagement of football fans by allowing them to take an active part in supporting their team during the match.”
Today, even many local matches are broadcast on cable or satellite TV — and increasingly, on the Internet, via subscription — and anyone within reach of a social network can use computer, phone, or tablet to weigh in with thoughts on the action. Vuboo takes advantage of Internet updates and social networking to report on what is happening in the game in real time — who kicked for a goal, how far, who blocked and who didn’t, who passed to whom, who’s in the penalty box, and so on. You can cheer (called “Vuvu-ing” in the app) or boo an event, player, team, etc.
You can comment, or see the comments of other fans, all of whom are watching and/or following the game together with you. And you can switch between games and leagues (the app follows the major European leagues, like UEFA Champions League, German Bundesliga, English Premiere League, Spanish La Liga, etc.).
“We designed Vubooo to answer the needs of many football fans around the world, just like Alon and myself, who live far away from their teams and wish to share their devotion with fellow fans,” said Topaz. “During live matches we are so emotional and ‘in the game’ that we just had to deliver a similar experience on mobile.”
Vuboo released its iOS app — allowing iPhone and iPad users to get involved — just in time for the UEFA Champions League semifinal matches, which begin Tuesday. Last January, Vubooo released a beta version of their Android app on the Google Play store, which received an impressive bump during the Euro 2012 tournament. Over 400,000 Android fans took part in the beta phase, with 65% of attendees actively involved in every match.
“The iOS version will reinvent the way football fans experience the match, launching today, just in time for the UEFA Champions League semifinals,” said Topaz. “Vubooo is excited to support the fans during the final stages of the most popular football league in the world.”