If you wanted to be at the Olympics but didn't have the time or the money to fly all the way to Rio, then you're in luck. The next best thing is to just beam yourself over to the Olympics, virtual reality-style. NBC Sports, which holds the rights to broadcast the Olympics in the US, is promising 85 hours of coverage for the games in virtual reality through the NBC Sports app. You can only avail of this using a Samsung phone, the Samsung Gear VR headset, and a paid TV subscription with NBC. The network's television provider will be verifying the app making sure those who have the proper rights get to watch the event in virtual reality.
The Olympics has always been big business, but the 2012 London summer Olympics set a record high 217 million viewers in the US, becoming the most-watched event in US television history. NBC is banking on that same momentum, and Samsung has managed to place itself in the enviable position of being the virtual reality broadcast partner for the event.
Not all events will be covered through VR, but the ones that are included are the opening and closing ceremonies, gymnastics, track and field, beach volleyball, diving, boxing, fencing, and men's basketball. The coverage will start with a delayed broadcast from August 6 to August 22.
In Europe, the option to watch the Olympics through Virtual Reality is also open through Viasat. There will also be a Viasat Ultra HD Channel launching in Sweden to cover the Olympics starting with the opening ceremony on August 5.
Virtual Reality has been used to cover sporting events in the past. NBC covered the Kentucky Derby earlier this May and broadcast it in the 360-degree video. Fox Sports, on the other hand, broadcast the US Open tennis tournament earlier in June in VR.
The age of Virtual Reality is truly upon us and as the technology continues to be adopted, more and more events and programming will be made available in Virtual Reality, providing even more immersive experiences.
- Images from samsung.com