In a first for the Olympics, American commercial broadcast television network NBC will broadcast 85 hours of virtual reality programming during the Rio Olympics in August. Virtual reality will only be available to users of Samsung Galaxy smartphones and the Samsung Gear VR headset.
According to NBC, the opening and closing ceremonies will be available to watch in 360-degree, as will the 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.
The 85 hours will be captured by Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS) and supplied to NBC Olympics. All of the content will be available on the NBC Sports app to only Samsung Galaxy smartphones compatible with Gear VR.
Gary Zenkel, President, NBC Olympics said the Olympics will showcase the cutting-edge of technology said: “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.
“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.”
“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,” said 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.”
“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,” said 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.”
The Olympics will take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Aug. 5 to 21.
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