From allowing fans to post videos or images of games to social media networks to sharing game time data to the general public, the NBA has always been at the forefront of embracing technology. Now the league is taking its love for technology one step further.
On Thursday, the NBA announced that for the upcoming season, they will broadcast one game a week in virtual reality. This is the first time that a professional sports league will regularly be broadcasting a game via virtual reality technology.
From the NBA:
NBA Digital and NextVR, the leader in broadcasting live events in virtual reality, will live stream at least one NBA LEAGUE PASS game per week in virtual reality during the 2016-17 season. This programming marks the first regular schedule of live games delivered in VR by a professional sports league. As part of this multiyear partnership, NextVR becomes the "Official LEAGUE PASS VR Partner of the NBA."
The weekly games will be available as part of the NBA LEAGUE PASS full season package. Whether purchased through a third party distributor or directly through the NBA, fans will be able to authenticate their accounts by inputting their NBA LEAGUE PASS login credentials (obtained at NBA.com or the NBA App) within NextVR's app.
The VR broadcasts will be fully produced with dedicated announcers, multiple unmanned camera angles and optimized graphics. Game breaks will be filled with in-venue entertainment, behind-the-scenes footage from the arena and VR-specific commentary.
The first virtual reality broadcasted game will be the Kings vs. Spurs on Oct. 27. That game can be watched for free via VR but fans must have a Samsung phone and Samsung headset in order to watch it. For the beginning of the season at least, fans will only be able to watch VR games via Samsung products but later it will be expanded so more headset options can be used.
While wearing a VR headset to watch a live event is still foreign and perhaps silly to many people, it is cheaper than paying to go to an actual game (minus the upfront costs of buying a headset of course), so perhaps it will eventually catch on. The NBA at least believes VR will be a big part of the future, and doing this one game a week test should help the league determine if they will expand the program to more games next season.
Now if the NBA could only make all cable providers show all League Pass games in HD...