The NBA have announced that they’re to bring a collection of their events to VR, giving basketball fans the chance to go courtside without even being there.
The ability to capture the electric atmosphere of a live sporting event for those not lucky enough to be there is surely a broadcaster’s dream, worth a pretty penny to any company who manages to deliver it successfully. But whilst we’ve heard an awful lot of buzz surrounding movies and music in 360 degree, virtual reality friendly form, sports has been left a little in the cold.
Now the NBA has detailed a new initiative to try and deliver a sporting entertainment experience that goes beyond the TV. The association is due to deliver four events in 360 video format via Samsung’s new VR video streaming service Milk VR – the platform designed to deliver VR video content for their mobile VR headset, Gear VR.
“With basketball enthusiasts all over the world, it’s paramount that we explore new ways to bring fans even closer to the game,” said Jeff Marsilio, NBA Vice President of Global Media Distribution. “Virtual reality delivers amazing vantage points like the NBA All-Star Game from a courtside seat or Sprite Slam Dunk from the baseline. We’re very excited about the possibilities and look forward to rolling out the content to our fans.” The NBA are the first professional US sports league to bring VR coverage to the public which should continue throughout the 2014-2015 season.
Samsung launched Milk VR at CES in January, talking up the service aimed at bringing immersive video to their mobile VR platform, Gear VR. Samsung was bullish about the extent of their content lineup for the service, to be delivered in the coming months, and named NBA’s coverage as a highlight – alongside an original drama from the company behind TV hit The Walking Dead.
Furthermore, VR video made an appearance at the 16th NBA All-Star Technology Summit today with Next VR‘s ‘NBA Virtual Backcourt’ experience, featuring game action highlights captured by Next VR from the October 2014 Miami Heat vs. Cleveland Cavaliers NBA Global Games matchup in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Samsung has shown fairly clearly since Gear VR’s launch that immersive video, it believes, will form a large part of the virtual reality content that’s consumed via the headset. With Hollywood and now the world of sports seemingly clambering over themselves to try and capture an audience in the new VR video market, it’s obvious that sentiment is shared across the entertainment industry.