While Oculus and HTC are undoubtedly the biggest names when it comes to gaming in virtual reality, it’s difficult to discount the presence that Samsung has established in terms of video content designed to be viewed using the technology. Now, the company has announced plans to stream a variety of live events in VR.
In early June, Samsung will launch the VR Live Pass via the Samsung VR app, according to a report from SammyHub. The pass will offer access to a range of live events and performances that can be viewed via Gear VR headsets, offering an immersive experience no matter where the user happens to be.
The service will broadcast its first event on June 3, when UFC 212 emanates from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. This marks the first time that a UFC event will be available in VR, with both a 360-degree live-stream and additional content tailored for headsets set to be on offer.
However, the main card — including the hotly anticipated UFC Featherweight Championship match between Max Holloway and José Aldo — won’t be available to stream for customers in the United States and New Zealand. Other countries that have access to the VR Live Pass will be able to enjoy the whole event, but those two regions will only be able to watch the UFC Fight Pass preliminary bouts.
In July, VR Live Pass will offer coverage of all the extreme sports action from the 2017 edition of the X Games in Minneapolis. Then, in August, Live Nation will broadcast a live music performance from a major recording artist, with more details set to follow at a later time.
Samsung is certainly adopting an intriguing strategy when it comes to VR; making the technology available without great expense to the user via its smartphones, and then concentrating on providing a steady stream of content. There’s already a great deal of Gear VR hardware out in the wild, and partnerships with the likes of the UFC, the X Games, and Live Nation are sure to give owners a reason to try out the VR Live Pass.
However, it remains to be seen how this content will be paid for, at Samsung plans to offer it to Gear VR users for free. Either the company is footing the bill to build an audience, or it will be heavily subsidized by advertising, and it’s difficult to say whether either of those solutions are viable in the long run.