NEW YORK (AP) — Athletes in Rio will compete to be the fastest sprinter and highest jumper at the Olympics this August. But there’s another test underway as well: How well can virtual reality capture sporting events?
NBC says it will provide 85 hours of virtual reality programming during the Rio Olympics in August — though only to users of Samsung Galaxy smartphones and the Samsung Gear VR headset. It’s the first time Olympics programming will be available in VR.
Virtual reality coverage of sports, essentially 360 video, has been growing since VR headsets such as the Samsung Gear and Oculus Rift became widely available earlier this year. Sports broadcasters are betting that virtual reality will be the next big game-changing way to watch sports. But right now, the audience is limited to those that have smartphones and VR headsets, which can be pricey.
The Olympics video, which will be presented on delay during the games, will include opening and closing ceremonies, men’s basketball, gymnastics, and track-and-field events. Other virtualized sports will include beach volleyball, diving, boxing and fencing. NBC will also release VR highlight packages of those sports.
The Olympics will take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Aug. 5 to 21.