Owners of a wide variety of virtual reality (VR) headsets will be happy to learn that when the 2018 Winter Olympics kick off next month in PyeongChang, South Korea, they may be able to get front-row seats. That’s because NBC will reportedly be broadcasting the first-ever live coverage of the games in VR via its NBC Sports VR app to pay-TV subscribers, with around 50 hours of live footage planned – which will be provided by the International Olympic Committee’s Olympic Broadcasting Services. Unfortunately, that means a new paid subscription will be required for those who don’t already have one, but that may turn out to be worth it. In addition, to live coverage of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, alpine skiing, curling, snowboarding, skeleton, figure skating, short track, ski jumping, ice hockey, big air, and other events, NBC plans to air a total of 1,800 hours of footage.
Meanwhile, some of the footage planned for broadcast will, of course, be replays. In fact, NBC intends to offer replays of all of the prior live-streamed events on a daily basis, as well as one additional 360-degree video of a sport that wasn’t available for live streaming in VR from the previous day. That’s in addition to a highlights package from the prior day that will be released over the entire course of the 2018 Winter Olympics. The footage, meanwhile, will be created using Intel True VR technology, in order to ensure a fully interactive 360-degree view of the events. That also means there’s a good chance that viewers may catch something that was missed on their first watch-through if they decide to watch a given event again.
As to which platforms the broadcast will be compatible with, NBC is said to be pushing the 2018 Winter Olympics to Samsung, Google, Windows, and both Android and iOS devices. Judging by that list, the 2018 live VR Winter Olympic Games should be accessible to just about anybody with a VR headset and a pay-TV subscription. That can’t be guaranteed but thanks to NBC’s decision to use its own NBC Sports VR app as the delivery medium, it should be fairly easy for anybody who is interested in watching the upcoming games to check for themselves well in advance of the first broadcast. For those who don’t want to pay for a subscription, Samsung was previously reported to be seeking permission to stream the games itself but it isn’t immediately clear whether or not it will be.