NextVR CEO Dave Cole chats the future of virtual reality content for the NBA. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
For the 2018/19 season, which kicks off on Tuesday, NextVR will feature weekly immersive 3D games. This will be in addition to the 2D streams of every League Pass game that are viewable through NextVR’s its virtual screening room, where games appear on a theater-sized screen. Other on-demand programming, such as highlights, will be available as well. This VR footage will add to a widening array of digital options for basketball fans.
Also new this year is compatibility with both the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive headsets. Social features have been added to the NBA games streamed through Oculus Venues, allowing fans to watch games live alongside their friends in virtual courtside seats.
“Now in our third NBA season, we continue to evolve our VR broadcast to provide the highest quality, most immersive NBA experience in VR,” said David Cole, NextVR co-founder and chief executive, in a statement. “Every night of the NBA season, NextVR is providing fans worldwide with multiple live VR viewing options, coupled with free on-demand highlights.”
The live VR schedule tips off during the NBA League Pass Free Preview this weekend. The two featured games will both include the the Golden State Warriors: on the road against the Denver Nuggets on Oct. 21, and at home against the Phoenix Suns on Oct. 22.
NBA League Pass is part of NBA Digital, the NBA’s cross-platform portfolio of digital assets jointly managed with Turner Sports. NextVR is the league’s official live VR partner.
The NBA has been at the forefront of technological innovation in sports, including being one of the first professional leagues to adopt virtual reality streaming across a majority of games. The NBA has said that efforts like this are important because of its huge international fanbase, which might hinder many fans from ever seeing a game live in person. NextVR has previously said that it plans to make VR feel as close to the real thing as possible. Last season, NextVR added a feature called Six Degrees of Freedom (6DoF), which enables the headset viewer to move and shift their view depending on the action. If a referee is blocking their angle, for example, users can shift to the side to peer around the official.