Virtual Reality To Debut at Olympics in Rio; NBC To Stream VR Content via Samsung Devices
Virtual reality will make its Olympics debut this summer, as Olympics Broadcast Services (OBS) will produce 85 hours of VR programming on a one-day delay at the Rio 2016 Olympics Games. The VR content will be supplied to NBC Olympics, which will deliver the coverage exclusively to authenticated users of compatible Samsung Galaxy smartphones together with Samsung Gear VR via the NBC Sports app. The 85 hours of VR programming will include the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, men’s basketball — including the semifinals and final — gymnastics, track and field, beach volleyball, diving, boxing, and fencing, as well as highlight packages of those sports. All VR programming will be presented on delay, from August 6, the day after the Opening Ceremony, through August 22, the day after the Games conclude.
Only Samsung Galaxy smartphones compatible with Gear VR will be able to access the VR content section of the NBC Sports app. Samsung customers can view the VR content via TV Everywhere on the NBC Sports app after authenticating through their pay TV provider.
“VR technology carries incredible potential for the sport broadcast industry, offering a truly immersive user experience. Our first test in Lillehammer, together with Samsung, for the Winter Youth Olympic Games was highly successful and we look forward to further exploring this exciting technology with NBC in Rio,” says Yiannis Exarchos, OBS CEO. “VR has the power to enable hundreds of millions of people around the world to have a real sense of presence and participation in the most universal celebration of humanity, which is the Olympic Games.”
NBC entered the VR game in May, when it teamed with NextVR to produce the first-ever live virtual reality experience for horseracing at the Kentucky Derby. The VR production featured seven camera positions — five on the track and two in the paddock — at Churchill Downs during the Derby and the two prior races, including the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic.
“The world’s greatest sporting event is always a showcase for cutting edge technology, and we’re thrilled to partner with Samsung and OBS to bring our viewers even closer to compelling Olympic action with virtual reality,” says Gary Zenkel, President, NBC Olympics. “Olympic fans can be transported to iconic venues such as Maracana Stadium for an unprecedented view of the Opening Ceremony, and Copacabana Beach for an immersive beach volleyball experience in the sport’s ultimate setting.”
Virtual reality immerses the viewer into an environment, whether real or imagined, creating either a lifelike experience at a place in the real world or putting a viewer into simulated environments such as in a VR game. Samsung’s Galaxy S7, Galaxy S7 edge, Galaxy S6, Galaxy S6 edge, Galaxy S6 edge+ and Galaxy Note5 phones, when paired with the Samsung Gear VR headset, provide an untethered, fully-immersive experience with 360-degree content for a mobile VR experience that enables people view a growing library of premium and entertaining games, apps, photos and videos wherever they are. Samsung is the Official Smartphone Partner of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
“Fans of the Olympics will now get to experience the world’s best athletes as they compete in some of the most popular events of Rio 2016 in a whole new way: through virtual reality,” says Marc Mathieu, Chief Marketing Officer at Samsung Electronics America. “We are thrilled to work with NBC and OBS on this first-of-its-kind endeavor, connecting fans right to the action in Rio, powered by 360-degree storytelling, virtual reality and our Galaxy phones.”