Like basketball? Like virtual reality? Well you’re in luck.
The NBA just announced that starting next week the league will be streaming one game a week in VR, all season long. The games and teams will rotate each week, but with about 30 weeks in the season there’s a good shot you’ll be able to see your team play in VR at least once.
The stream will be hosted by NextVR, the VR app that lets you stream live sports on Samsung and Oculus’ GearVR platform.
While NextVR and the NBA have worked together to stream a live game before, this will be the first time the league has offered a scheduled reoccurring VR stream of a game. In fact, it’s the first time any professional sports league has offered a reoccurring live VR broadcast.
The VR stream will be made available as part of NBA League Pass, NBA Digital’s platform that lets users subscribe and stream every NBA game all season. League Pass subscribers will need to log into their account once inside the NextVR app to receive access to the stream. While League Pass is expensive at $199.99 a year, it essentially gives basketball fans access to stream over 1,000 games over the course of the season.
It’s an interesting move for NBA Digital (which is co-managed by Turner Sports and the NBA) to bundle these VR streams into League Pass instead of making it a separate subscription or just offering the streams for free.
The downside is that it probably puts these streams out of the price range of VR fans that just want to try watching live sports in VR. But the upside is that it means the NBA is treating virtual reality as a real way for fans to watch the game, and not just a novelty.
The VR broadcasts will be fully produced with dedicated announcers, multiple camera angles, and optimized VR graphics. Plus during game breaks the camera will show in-venue exclusive 360-degree content that you wouldn’t be able to see on a standard TV.
The first time the NBA experimented with streaming a game in VR it was just one 360-degree camera that was basically forgotten about all game – so this new style of broadcast should really benefit fans who want to watch in VR while maintaining the same production quality that a TV broadcast offers.
The first game in VR will be on October 27th between the Sacramento Kings and San Antonio Spurs. This stream will be available as a free preview to anyone with a Gear VR since it falls within League Pass’ free trial period.
And while NextVR is only available on GearVR today, the company promises that additional VR headsets (hopefully like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive) will come “later this season”.