Want to watch March Madness in VR? You’re in luck.
Six games — including the Final Four national semifinals and National Championship game — will be streamed in VR. The games will be available via the new NCAA March madness Live VR App available on the Oculus Store, which will work with Gear VR devices.
One catch… you’ll have to pay for the privilege of watching these games in VR, via one of two tiers.
The gold tier is $2.99 per game or $7.99 for all six games. The gold tier will give viewers a “fully-produced” VR experience with multiple camera angles (including courtside). There will also be dedicated in-game commentary and analysis from three analysts, specifically designed for fans watching in VR.
The silver tier will be $1.99 a game and provide access to a single stationary courtside camera, with the same commentary featured on the regular CBS TV broadcast.
Charging to view games in VR is a departure from the model taken by other broadcasters like FOX Sports, which typically just requires VR viewers to authenticate with their cable account. But if the fully produced experience is much better than VR streams that just provide a stationary camera and pull audio from the TV broadcast, it could convince fans to open their wallet and change the entire business model of VR streams.
Unfortunately neither Oculus Rift nor Vive won’t be supported — at least for now. As hardcore VR users know, this isn’t necessarily surprising. To date, almost every time a network has announced they are streaming a sports event in VR — including the Super Bowl — it has only been available for Gear VR users. In a way this makes sense, because Gear VR has a much larger audience base than Oculus Rift or Vive users.
The project is the start of a multiyear partnership between Intel (who is powering the tech), Turner Sports, CBS Sports and the NCAA. Last year the NCAA showed 3 March Madness games in VR powered by Voke VR — a company Intel acquired last year and is now becoming Intel’s True VR platform.
You can download the NCAA March madness Live VR App in the Oculus store here.