Turner and NBA show commitment to VR with Intel venture
Turner Sports, the US broadcaster which televises live games from the NBA, has entered a partnership with Intel, the computer chip manufacturer to provide coverage of the top basketball league in virtual reality, starting early next year.
Under the multi-year deal, Intel becomes the exclusive provider of VR for the NBA on the TNT network, which will show a weekly game in the format, courtesy of the Intel True VR technology.
The partnership tips off for the 2018 NBA All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles on 16 to 18 February and cable and satellite subscribers wanting to take in the experience will need to have a Samsung Gear VR or Google Daydream headset and download the NBA TNT VR app from the Oculus or Google Play stores.
Users will be able to watch the games from multiple camera angles, including courtside alongside celebrities or up in the stands with the massed ranks of fans for a more panoramic view.
Intel will also integrate 360-degree volumetric video into the VR experience using its freeD technology allowing fans to pause game action and watch from a player’s point of view on the court, while the company will benefit from on-air references and a 30-second advertising spot that the Turner Ignite Sports team will produce to promote the app.
The enhanced coverage will also be available to the NBA’s global broadcast partners, which enable exposure of the league in 215 countries.
Turner and the NBA have been at the forefront of VR broadcasting initiatives in North American sport, having previously teamed up with California-based NextVR to offer regular live games in the format in the domestic market and internationally.
Earlier this year, Turner and US national network CBS worked with Intel to produce VR coverage of college sports’ NCAA Division 1 Men’s Basketball Championship, more familiarly known as ‘March Madness’.
Meanwhile, Intel is in the process of developing a VR proposition for the 2018 winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang having signed up as a new TOP sponsor of the International Olympic Committee in a seven-year deal signed in June.
James Carwana, vice-president and general manager of Intel Sports, said: “Intel is working with leagues and sports organizations all over the world to develop and deliver the most cutting-edge immersive media experiences that will make sports more engaging for the next generation of fans.
“This unique partnership with the NBA will enable us to work with official league broadcasters, including Turner Sports, to take their broadcasts to an unprecedented level and create new ways to immerse viewers in the game.”
Will Funk, executive vice-president of property marketing and corporate partnerships at Turner Sports, added: “Turner Sports and Turner Ignite Sports have been at the forefront of delivering thrilling new experiences to fans. This unprecedented partnership, with Turner Sports as the first NBA broadcast partner to offer the latest Intel VR technology, does just that.
“We look forward to bringing this partnership to life through our broadcasts, as well as telling the story behind the power of Intel’s True VR technology in other unique, unexpected ways.”