Forget about the Super Bowl. Forget about the halftime show. Forget about all the crazy commercials in between. Okay, maybe not forever, but for the time being, just put it aside. It’s time to trade in wide receivers for golden retrievers, Coldplay for kitten play, and cheerleaders for chickens. This year, all the excitement is centered around America’s cutest sporting event ever: The Puppy Bowl.
Yes, it’s a real thing. In fact, Puppy Bowl XII will feature 49 different puppies in the starting lineup, from 44 different animal shelters across the country, ranging in age, breed and size. Team Ruff takes on Team Fluff in the most adorable battle for all the sports glory. Better yet, each pup is more adorable then the next and is available for adoption after the game. We’re not sure if this little gal (or guy!) will be suiting up, but we sure hope so …
As usual, puppies this year will be competing for the title of MVP, most valuable puppy, and this year’s halftime show will be a kitten extravaganza, inspired by San Francisco tourist attractions such as “Al-Cat-Raz” and Fisherman’s Wharf.
Also new this year is the Puppy Bowl Hall of Fame that will honor the game’s greatest players, as well as encourage the adoption of some of the league’s “older veteran animals.” And if you don’t know who you want to root for – Team Ruff or Team Fluff – you can even create a fantasy team with three of your favorite Puppy Bowl pups and compete to be top dog.
But this year the Puppy Bowl is involved with a new piece of technology that has the potential to change the way we watch sports forever — virtual reality and 360-degree video.
To check out the VR technology, all you need to do is head to the Puppy Bowl VR page or Animal Planet’s YouTube channel. Click on one of the four different videos to watch, then use your mouse to scroll around and pan inside the video for a full, immersive 360-degree experience on your computer, smartphone, tablet or virtual reality headset like Google Cardboard.
You can follow the puppies as they run around the field, fight over toys, take a water break, stay behind the pack for a breather, or just simply plop down and relax.
Could Puppy Bowl success with VR translate into more, say, NBA or NHL games being shown at 360-degrees? The amazing new technology was previously tested by the NBA in 2015, in the opening night game between the Golden State Warriors and the New Orleans Pelicans and it looks like there’s no turning back.
Experts at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas predict that 360 degree video is the next big thing in tech, so it will be interesting to see what other leagues will sign on, and how soon.
So far the company that shot the video for the Warriors and Pelicans game has also worked with the NHL and Premier League Soccer. On top of that Showtime has used the technology to cover boxing matches and BRG Sports has already created an action sports helmet fitted with a 360-degree, 4k camera to make more than your average GoPro action sports video. Ski resorts have it and LeBron James has also launched his very own virtual reality experience called “Striving for Greatness”. Even the Sacramento Kings are testing the tech.
If those examples are any indication, it looks like the most valuable puppies could soon be pioneers. So, if you’re already sick of all the pre-game talk about the Super Bowl, be sure to tune into Animal Planet on Sunday February 7 at 3 p.m. central time and enjoy!