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As more fans are priced out of attending live sporting events, where will they turn?

The meteoric rise of e-sports will accelerate Third Venue development. This August, thousands of Dota 2 players and fans who couldn’t get tickets to The International convened to watch the tournament live at “pubstomps” in sports bars and Internet cafes across the globe.

In all likelihood, the first time you saw a widescreen HD television was in the original kind of third venue: the sports bar. Recent history suggests that breakthrough entertainment technology rarely appears in the home first. Cinema, video games, IMAX, and 3D all were launched at third venues — public spaces that are neither the home nor the stadium. The new immersive viewing technology on the horizon will also appear first in these spaces. As 360-degree video becomes more embedded in architecture, walking into the sports bar of the future will feel not just like walking into a stadium — but like walking onto the field.

What these third venues offer: the best elements of the stadium atmosphere, more creature comforts than the stadium, and fellow fans to celebrate with — the perfect integration of live and digital moments. This modular experience can be consumed a la carte to fit the personalized fan experience.

The big driver of the third venue is customer segmentation: only the top 10% income bracket of fans can routinely attend games live. The top 10% keep getting richer at a 3-5% annual rate, so ticket prices climb 3-5% consistently until they are out of reach of the rest of the fans — who watch on TV. The third venue is a way to get a family of four to spend an amount between the cost of attending the game ($500 to $1,000) and nothing (watching on TV). Perhaps at the third venue they eat and drink and get some of the feeling of having a live audience around them, while spending $60-$200, of which leagues get a cut.

Small-town moms can already go to their local movie theater to watch an Ultra HD simulcast of the Metropolitan Opera happening in New York City. Sports bar/cinema hybrids “hosting” sporting events in theater-sized venues aren’t far off. Imagine walking in and feeling just like you’re in a stadium luxury suite, watching the game through the skybox glass. Used as public and private venues, third venues allow an incredibly immersive sporting atmosphere — including the buzz of an excited crowd.

Third venues will be the first place you’ll be able to see life-sized replays up close and in fully realized 3D. The first generation of these displays won’t be true holograms (you won’t be able to view them from all sides), but they will still appear fully 3D to the viewer. Initially this technol-ogy will be used to enliven pre-and post-game interviews. As the technology advances, it will bring life-sized instant replays into sports bars and luxury lounges.

Coming Soon to a Third Venue Near You

Location-based fan competition

Apps like Spogo and BarBets already facilitate fantasy play in real time — not against anonymous strangers around the country but against other people in the same place as you. The game within the game becomes an in-person experience. As Bitcoin gains increased acceptance and usage, it will turn a third venue into something unique and interactive.


Sensory Upgrade

4DX — adds motion, smell, wind, and other sensations to watching video.


Sphere of Influence

Barco Escape — surrounds the viewer with a 270-degree view.

Sphere of Influence

Family-friendly atmosphere

While bars are for adults, the third venues will transform into places where you’d really think of bringing your family, the same way Las Vegas has transformed from an adult getaway into a family tourism magnet. Whether it’s a a sliding board built into the wall, or a virtual roller coaster booth that makes youngsters shriek, innovative ways of making kids feel welcome will emerge.


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