Toronto Raptors v Atlanta HawksThe 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's Gear VR 'Innovator Edition' Headset
Samsung’s Gear VR ‘Innovator Edition’ Headset

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.

See Also: CES 2015: ‘The Walking Dead’ Creators Working on New Made-for-VR TV Show

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.

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See Also: NextVR Raises $5 Million for Live VR Broadcast Tech, Content to Come Pre-loaded on Samsung Gear VR

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.

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Based in the UK, Paul has been immersed in interactive entertainment for the best part of 27 years and has followed advances in gaming with a passionate fervour. His obsession with graphical fidelity over the years has had him branded a ‘graphics whore’ (which he views as the highest compliment) more than once and he holds a particular candle for the dream of the ultimate immersive gaming experience. Having followed and been disappointed by the original VR explosion of the 90s, he then founded RiftVR.com to follow the new and exciting prospect of the rebirth of VR in products like the Oculus Rift. Paul joined forces with Ben to help build the new Road to VR in preparation for what he sees as VR’s coming of age over the next few years.
  • AJ@VRSFX

    We demoed alongside NextVR at the DigitalLA mixer a few days ago. I had a chance to try their NBA court-side experience. 360 video is truly a game changer for sports fanatics.

  • Docjonel

    Editing please! If The Road to VR is to become one of the main sources of VR coverage it will need better written articles!

    Having said that, I find VR experiences to be equally as engrossing as gaming. I look forward to sporting events with VR coverage which will truly be a game changer. Auto racing and the ability to place compact 360 deg VR cameras in the cars would change the viewing experience in a way that’s hard to imagine. We are only at the very beginning of this technological revolution and it’s implications will be far reaching in the way that PC’s and cell phones have been.

    • Paul James

      Mistakes corrected.

      And we already are one of the main sources for VR I think you’ll find. Have been for some time now.

  • Don Gateley

    Paul, any way to get numbers on Gear VR sales? I notice a dearth of first person experience reports on the web.