NBC is gearing up for an unprecedented slate of Olympics programming this summer for the Rio Games, and along with broadcasting all of its events on television, it’s shooting to bring the experience to a whole new platform—virtual reality.
The company announced today that it will introduce VR coverage of the Olympic Games to Samsung Galaxy smartphones and Samsung Gear VR through its specialized NBC Sports app. It’s expected to broadcast over 85 hours of VR programming over the course of the event, along with the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, which are set to immerse viewers like never before.
Though the programming will be on delay, it will take showcase gymnastics to track and field to beach volleyball, among other sports.
“The world’s greatest sporting event is always a showcase for cutting edge technology, and we’re thrilled to partner with Samsung and Olympic Broadcasting Services to bring our viewers even closer to compelling Olympic action with virtual reality,” said Gary Zenkel, president of NBC Olympics. “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,” added Marc Mathieu, chief marketing officer at Samsung. “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.”
Samsung has already put these services to good use. Taken from the documentary A Fighting Chance, the feature focuses on a pair of Olympic volleyball hopefuls from Vanuatu as they train for the upcoming games.
The move into virtual reality is a smart one for NBC, and serves as a potential testing ground for the use of the technology with future promotions NHL, boxing and possibly even other programming. In May, NBC broadcast the Kentucky Derby in 360-degree video. CBS and Fox have both tested VR for sporting events, too.
For now, users can definitely make the most out of the Olympic coverage and see what it feels like to be there in some capacity.