Getting court-side seats may have always seemed like something of a pipe dream, but now, technology is turning that dream into a reality. Virtual reality, that is. The NBA is betting big on VR technology, and last week, the league made its very first original content for VR headsets via a partnership with Digital Domain.
The NBA VR app now features on-demand episodes of House of Legends, a new talk show that gives viewers insights into their favorite NBA players’ careers and their views on pop culture topics. But House of Legends is really just the beginning for the NBA when it comes to VR. Really, the league is looking to do a whole lot more in this realm.
Last year, the NBA debuted a VR documentary called Follow my Lead: The Story of the 2016 NBA Finals, but the film was actually spearheaded by Oculus. This year, however, the NBA itself is taking a front seat when it comes to creating content for its viewers.
Back in 2015, the NBA first streamed a game in 360-degree video, and now the league is live-streaming a game every week to Gear VR and Google Daydream by way of NextVR’s application. It’s pretty inexpensive to access this experience — just $7 a game to watch immersively rather than on your television screen.
Jeff Marsilio, the NBA’s VP of global media distribution, told Engadget that this VR experience has proven hugely popular and extremely valuable to fans who are either outside the U.S. or can’t exactly afford to be at the game every single week. “With virtual reality, you can actually deliver something like that experience,” Marsilio said, “You can make people feel closer to the action.” Currently, the VP noted, there’s no other medium that allows for this kind of experience, but it’s still unclear as to whether it’ll be a successful strategy for the league in the long term.
All the same, if you’re an NBA fan, it looks like you now have a way to enjoy all the action in a way that’s more up close and personal than ever before, and it’s all thanks to virtual reality.