NBA partners with Verizon Media to bring games to Oculus Venues

Mark manages all of the content for VRWorldTech. To discuss an idea or pitch a story, drop him a line at editor@vrworldtech.com

NBA games are coming to Oculus Venues thanks to an innovative partnership with Verizon Media that has the potential to transform VR into a new means for absent fans to experience live sports

Quick read

➨ After a hiatus following the outbreak of Covid-19, the professional basketball league in the US is returning to Disney World in Orlando, but with a new format and without fans in attendance
➨ To bring an immersive, arena-like experience to fans, RYOT will produce live NBA games in 360° video and transport the physical games taking place at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex to fans at home via their Oculus devices
➨ Thanks to a VR partnership with Oculus, more than a dozen live NBA games will be distributed via Oculus Venues on Quest and Go from today through to 14 August

The story

The National Basketball Association (NBA) in the US is turning to VR to make up for the fact that the league’s return today will be without fans present.

Verizon Media divisions Yahoo Sport and RYOT, a VR production studio, will serve as official marketing and immersive product partners, respectively, for the league restart, kicking off today in Florida.

After a hiatus following the outbreak of Covid-19, the professional basketball league in the US is returning to Disney World in Orlando, but with a new format and without fans in attendance.

To bring an immersive, arena-like experience to fans, RYOT will produce live NBA games in 360° video and transport the physical games taking place at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex to fans at home via their Oculus devices.

Thanks to a VR partnership with Oculus, more than a dozen live NBA games will be distributed via Oculus Venues on Quest and Go from today through to 14 August.

The NBA is encouraging basketball fans to purchase an Oculus Quest headset as part of the partnership.

Guru Gowrappan, chief executive officer of Verizon Media, described the NBA’s foray into immersive technology as “exactly the kind of innovative solution we love to create with our partners”.

Gowrappan continued: “RYOT’s powerful VR capabilities will deliver a truly immersive live experience at home, creating a seamless experience between the physical and digital world.”

“Working with the NBA to redefine the fan’s experience of the game has amazing implications for the future of sports and entertainment.”

As an official marketing partner, Yahoo Sports will engage fans through fantasy and sports betting in new ways, including the right to create sports betting content and expanding its existing distribution of the league’s premium live game subscription product, to include gaming integrations.

Bill Koenig, president of global content and media distribution at the NBA, said: “As the NBA Restart tips off this week, our expanded relationship with Yahoo Sports will offer a variety of unique ways for fans to engage with the NBA.”

“With everything from fantasy games, sports betting integrations, gaming-focused content and NBA games in VR, there will be no shortage of opportunities to get closer to the game.”

The return of live sports around the world without fans in stadiums and arenas forced their organisers to turn to innovative partners such as Verizon Media to boost coverage and access.

Without ticket and merchandise sales, professional sports face a significant revenue shortfall that could continue for potentially months and years to come.

It will be interesting to see whether the arrival of a brand such as the NBA on Oculus will boost Quest headset sales and in turn transform VR into a viable distribution platform for a professional sports league in desperate need of new revenue streams.

Let VRWorldTech know what you think via Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook or editor@vrworldtech.com.

Main image: RYOT will produce live NBA games in 360° video

close