NBC Airing First-Ever Live Winter Olympics Virtual Reality Coverage
January 8, 2018
NBC Jan. 8 announced it would provide more than 50 hours of live virtual reality coverage during the XXIII Olympic Winter Games from PyeongChang, South Korea.
Virtual Reality immerses the viewer into an environment, whether real or imagined, creating either a lifelike experience at a place in the real world or putting a viewer into simulated environments such as in a VR game.
The VR coverage will be available to authenticated users with Windows Mixed Reality headsets, Samsung Gear VR, and both Google Cardboard and Google Daydream, with compatible iOS or Android devices via the NBC Sports VR app.
It marks the first time that VR will be available for a Winter Olympics and that VR programming will be live in the U.S on a wide range of devices and platforms.
“The Olympics have long been an opportunity to showcase emerging media technology,” Gary Zenkel, president, NBC Olympics, said in a statement.
VR programming will include the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, alpine skiing, curling, snowboarding, skeleton, figure skating, short track, ski jumping, ice hockey, and big air, among other events.
NBC Olympics will offer VR replays of all events previously livestreamed; one daily 360-degree video of a sport not available in VR the previous day; and packaged highlights from the day before.
“We are enabling a truly immersive experience, where fans get closer to the action than ever before allowing them feel like they are sitting in the stands for a front and center view of history being made,” said James Carwana, VP and GM of Intel Sports Group, which is working with NBC on VR coverage.
Viewers will be able to customize their experience by switching between multiple vantage points, hear natural sound captured at each camera location to provide a truly immersive experience, and enjoy real-time stats, leaderboards and post-event results.
Viewers will also be able to “fly” through the Olympic world, tour Olympic venues and different areas throughout Korea.
NBC Olympics will also provide content prior to the start of the Games, with behind-the-scenes content captured with Intel True VR technology. VR users will be able to experience a winter sports athlete prepare for the Games; witness the culture, sights and beauty of Korea; and explore the PyeongChang Olympic venues.
Programming will span every day of the Games – with the exception of Feb. 18 – beginning the day of the Opening Ceremony on Friday, Feb. 9, and concluding with the Closing Ceremony on Sunday, Feb. 25.
NBC Olympics’ first foray into VR was for the Rio Olympics in 2016. Most programming was presented on next-day delay.