Pelicans vs. Warriors to Be 1st Live Sports Game Aired in Virtual Reality

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistOctober 27, 2015

OAKLAND, CA - APRIL 20:  Anthony Davis #23 of the New Orleans Pelicans shoots over Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors in the second quarter during the first round of the 2015 NBA Playoffs at ORACLE Arena on April 20, 2015 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The NBA is teaming up with Turner Sports and technology company NextVR to present the first live sports game to air in virtual reality Tuesday night when the reigning NBA champion Golden State Warriors begin their title defense against the New Orleans Pelicans.  

An official release from NBA Communications states the ring ceremony before the game will also be available for viewing via virtual reality. Last season, the NBA released All-Star Weekend highlights in the format, becoming the first U.S. professional sports league to do so.

All of the information about the necessary devices and how to access the feed once it becomes available for the ring ceremony is posted on NextVR's official site.

Jessica Golden of CNBC passed along comments from Jeff Marsilio, the vice president of global media distribution for the NBA, about what fans would experience: "This is a landmark event for us and will give fans the feeling of sitting courtside."

He stated it's the only planned use of the technology as of now. That could change depending on how successful the broadcast is as they work to improve the fan experience.

Darren Rovell of ESPN noted the Kings are also interested in the virtual reality side of things as they announced a stake in the virtual reality company VOKE.

Finding ways to get viewers at home more involved has taken on a greater importance across the sports spectrum in recent years. Rovell noted an NFL-centric poll showed the number of people who wanted to attend games dropped from 54 percent in 1998 to 29 percent in 2011.

The upgrades in technology have likely played a role in that drop-off. In turn, there's an opportunity for leagues and broadcasters to further engage those people at home.

Virtual reality that can make it feel like a fan is courtside while sitting on their couch obviously has a lot of potential. Tuesday's game is the first major step in that direction.

The Warriors and the Pelicans are scheduled to tip off at 10:30 p.m. ET. The game will be broadcast the traditional way on TNT.


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