If you didn’t see the head-scratching final seconds of last night’s Game 1 of the NBA Finals—what was J.R. Smith thinking? a TV replay of a judgment call?—you’ll be able to relive it in virtual reality today.
For the second year in a row, the NBA and NextVR are offering free on-demand VR game highlights of the finals between the defending champion Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers.
“It is the best broadcast experience,” NextVR Chief Executive David Cole tells Barron’s of the five-minute highlight package that is available on VR platforms from Facebook, Microsoft (MSFT), Samsung Electronics (South Korea: 005930), HTC (Taiwan: 2498), and Sony (Japan: 6758).
“This year, an enhanced resolution mode offers substantially more detail, sharpness and depth to the picture,” Cole says, to take greater advantage of new VR broadcast technology. One tweak gives viewers freedom to movement to look around an official or player who stands in the way of a camera.
Virtual reality and sporting events have become teammates, of sorts, as technology and live content increasingly intertwine.
The BBC says all 33 matches it broadcasts of World Cup 2018 can be viewed in VR on its BBC Sport’s VR 2018 World Cup app. BBC One will make 29 matches available in Ultra HD.
Facebook’s (FB) Oculus has released a slate of VR-related programming that includes Major League Baseball games, concerts and film screenings. Facebook has a reported $30 million to $35 million contract with MLB to exclusively broadcast 25 games this season.
Facebook is one of several tech companies scrambling to gain a competitive edge in the burgeoning market for live sports and entertainment content. It, Twitter (TWTR), Alphabet’s (GOOGL) YouTube, and Amazon.com (AMZN) are vying for the type of programming that draws younger viewers and, ultimately, advertisers.
The market for VR- and augmented reality-based headsets is expected to grow to 68.9 million units in 2022 with a five-year compound annual growth rate of 52.5%, according to market researcher IDC.
For another day, Cavalier fans will be able to view the excruciating last minute of regulation in last night’s game from an immersive point of view. Who said fans don’t enjoy long suffering?
Sign up to Review & Preview, a new daily email from Barron’s. Every evening we’ll review the news that moved markets during the day and look ahead to what it means for your portfolio in the morning.