Last month, Fox Sports and VR live-streaming specialists NextVR announced that they inked a five-year partnership to bring a slew of live virtual reality experiences to sports fans across the country. Now that the ink has dried, we should start see consistent live-stream broadcasting of sporting events in VR, with the two companies letting us sit courtside this month for some March Madness action.
Fox Sports and NextVR will be broadcasting the quarterfinal, semifinal and championship games of the 2016 BIG EAST Men’s Basketball Tournament live in VR to fans from Madison Square Garden. The virtual reality broadcasts begin March 10 and go through March 12 for the championship game at 5:30 P.M. ET.
According to NextVR, this marks the first time a college basketball tournament will be broadcast live to a global audience in virtual reality. In total, seven games and more than 15 hours of live virtual reality coverage will be streamed over three days.
The idea behind the the Fox Sports virtual reality coverage broadcast is to let viewers feel as if they are watching the game amongst the fans in courtside seats. Fans who join the VR live-stream will get an immersive look from center court, near the sideline player huddles and under the basket. The live virtual stream will include audio and graphics highlighting player stats, scores and game updates, making this a more optimal experience over past VR live-streamed sporting events where all you saw was the game with little other information.
“Our pipeline for premiere sports content keeps building and we’re excited to deliver virtual reality programing with broad appeal to college sports fans, well-known early adopters of technology,” said Brad Allen, NextVR Chairman.
NextVR and Fox Sports plan on broadcasting a range of top sporting events in virtual reality going forward. Earlier this year, the partnership tested live VR broadcasts at Daytona 500 and a Premier Boxing Champions fight together. In 2015, FOX Sports, through its FOX Lab initiative, and NextVR also tested streaming the U.S. Open from Chambers Bay.
2016 BIG EAST Men’s Basketball Tournament
When: Quarterfinals, Semifinals, Finals on March 10th through 12th (Times ET)
March 10, 2016 Noon, 2:30 p.m., 7:00 p.m., 9:30 p.m.
March 11, 2016 6:30 p.m., 9:00 p.m.
March 12, 2016 5:30 p.m.
Where: Globally available through the NextVR app for Gear VR owners.
How: Gear VR owners with compatible phones may download (or update) the NextVR app to experience the live broadcast. Instructions here.