The National Basketball Association will be streaming games in virtual reality this coming 2016-17 season. Each week, an NBA game will be shown in VR thanks to NextVR and NBA Digital.
The VR games will have dedicated announcers and VR-optimized graphics. The games will also use different camera angles to complete the NBA experience.
The VR experience will be a lot different than just watching the game on a huge TV screen. For one, watching the games in VR requires fans to wear a VR headset which will close them out of the rest of the world. This way, viewers will only see the game as it unfolds. During timeouts and breaks, VR viewers will witness behind-the-scenes footage around the arena. They can also watch the in-arena entertainment which is often left out during TV broadcasts.
Fans with a Samsung Gear VR with the Next VR app can watch the games in VR. The league is still working on having other brands and models of VR headsets show NBA games but they are confident that this will be possible within the season.
The Verge reports that only fans with full-season NBA League Pass subscriptions can enjoy this treat, however. Those who wish to experience NBA in virtual reality needs to subscribe directly or through a cable provider.
The first NBA game to be streamed in VR will be held on October 27 and will feature the San Antonio Spurs playing at the Sacramento Kings' new tech-savvy arena, the Golden 1 Center. VOKE, an on-demand media company and leading virtual-reality innovator which is partially owned by the Kings, will also feature the game on Facebook Live and in real-time VR as reported by CNET.
The full schedule for the 25 VR-streamed NBA games will be known next month.
The first NBA game and professional sports event ever broadcasted in VR was the opening game of the Golden State Warriors against the New Orleans Pelicans. The league has been working with NextVR for three years now.
NBA Associate Vice President of Global Media, Jeff Marsilio, believes the use of VR will allow the games to be seen by fans around the world who "don't have access to go to games".