Watching someone hit a ball more than 400 feet in the air with a glorified piece of wood is a scene best experienced live, but for baseball fans looking forward to tuning into the Home Run Derby this year, there is an alternative that can get you almost as close to the action. Today, Major League Baseball Advanced Media (MLBAM) has announced a partnership with virtual reality company NextVR to make the 2016 T-Mobile Home Run Derby available for on-demand viewing, in virtual reality.
NextVR will capture the on-field slugfest and crowd reactions with numerous virtual reality cameras set up around the field. From those cameras, fans will be able to see Baltimore Orioles outfielder Mark Trumbo and other MLB stars smack home runs around San Diego’s Petco Park. The VR home run derby will be available to watch on the Samsung Gear VR from the MLB channel on the NextVR app, downloadable in the Oculus Home when you dock your phone into the headset.
“MLBAM is a known innovator in sports technology and we are honored to work together as we continue to provide premier entertainment and sporting events in virtual reality,” said NextVR Executive Chairman Brad Allen in a press release announcing the news.
While the MLB has not live streamed games in virtual reality like the NCAA and the NBA have, America’s pastime has been setting up tours in VR. This summer, the MLB will embark on a We Are Baseball tour, a state-of-the-art exhibit allowing fans to experience Baseball Hall of Fame artifacts and footage without trekking to Cooperstown in Otsego, New York. As part of the tour, VR company Jaunt will provide fans with virtual reality experiences of watching spring training from a few MLB teams and even the Kansas City Royals’ ring ceremony for winning the 2015 World Series.
The VR content from the Home Run Derby will be available to view directly after the live airing in the NextVR app. The 2016 T-Mobile Home Run Derby airs tonight on ESPN at 8 P.M. EST.