Are you ready to watch live sports with virtual reality goggles? Fox Sports is betting that a lot of people are: It just unveiled a five-year partnership with broadcast technology company NextVR to offer what it describes as “a range of top sporting events where Fox Sports holds the broadcast rights.”
Next up is Sunday’s Daytona 500 race. The companies vow to “bring fans to the starting line, the middle of the infield and with team racing crews as they change tires on pit row.” The audio will include commentary and graphics highlighting the race leaders.
The VR broadcast will be streamed from the NextVR portal. But it’s just available to owners of a Samsung Gear VR headset, which works with certain Samsung Galaxy smartphones.
Plans after that will be “announced soon” for NextVR’s portal, which has a dedicated Fox Sports section, the companies say.
They demonstrated the technology in January with VR showings of Premier Boxing Champions matches. They also tested it last year at the Auto Club 400 NASCAR race in Fontana, CA, and the United States Open Golf Championship from Chambers Bay.
The new “wide-ranging agreement” with Fox “is proof that our technology provides an exciting and compelling option to witness great sporting events in virtual reality,” NextVR Executive Chairman Brad Allen says.
Fox Sports President Eric Shanks adds that the VR programming will offer “something new and exciting for our viewers.” He calls VR “the next great frontier in immersive experiences for fans across a wide variety of sports. It’s a rapidly changing technology, and this deal with NextVR positions us to be on the front lines for years to come.”
Several major media companies have their eye on NextVR. In November it announced that it raised $30.5 million from a group of investors that included Comcast Ventures, Time Warner Investments, MSG, and Dick Clark Productions.
NextVR says it has more than 26 patents either granted or pending that handle how VR content is captured, compressed, transmitted, and displayed.
In October Turner Sports teamed with NextVR to offer what they called “the first live professional sports game in virtual reality”: a match between NBA Champion Golden State Warriors vs the New Orleans Pelicans.