As the largest global sporting competition, the 2016 Summer Olympics is the perfect mass-scale event to introduce and exhibit a buzzy new technology: virtual reality. With exclusive rights to this year’s Olympic matchups, NBC has announced they will provide and broadcast virtual reality coverage for the first time of this year’s Olympics in Rio. The peacock network is promising hours upon hours of virtual reality content to accompany the 85-hour cumulative broadcast of the Olympics. The Opening and Closing Ceremonies, track and field, gymnastics, boxing, diving, beach volleyball, fencing and men’s basketball will all be broadcast in VR.
“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,” said NBC Olympics president Gary Zenkel. VR coverage can be accessed via compatible Samsung Galaxy smartphones or the NBC Sports app and TV Everywhere when authenticated with a paid television provider. To view the thrilling feats of athleticism in virtual reality, viewers can also use Samsung VR.
NBC’s virtual reality programming will be on a one-day delay, so viewers will have to wait until August 6 to begin viewing all thing Olympics in VR, starting with the Opening Ceremony. Still, the sheer scope and magnitude that virtual reality can bring to Olympic proceedings should be well worth waiting for. As Zenkel notes, “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.” As a spectator, watching Olympic showdowns in immersive, full 360-degree visual storytelling is second only to actually viewing it in person in Rio.