NBC is going for the gold this year and offering up an extensive livestream of the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, in virtual reality for U.S. pay-TV subscribers.
In all, the network will produce 50 hours of livestreamed VR content. During the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, NBC partnered with Samsung to offer VR content but that programming was made available the day after.
The content will be available to pay-TV customers who authenticate through the NBC Sports VR app. Supported devices included Windows Mixed Reality headsets, Samsung Gear VR, and both Google Cardboard and Google Daydream, with compatible iOS or Android devices.
NBC said it will be the first time ever that VR will be available for a Winter Olympics and that Olympic VR programming will be live in the U.S. Events getting the live VR treatment include the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, alpine skiing, curling, snowboarding, skeleton, figure skating, short track, ski jumping, ice hockey and big air. NBC also will offer VR replays of all events previously livestreamed and one daily 360-degree video of a sport not available in VR.
NBC is leaning on Intel’s True VR technology, which uses multiple camera pods at each event to create interactive 360-degree virtual reality environments. Viewers can switch between the cameras, receive “natural sound” captured at each camera location, and see real-time stats, leaderboards and postevent results.
NBC and Intel also said that viewers will also be able to “fly through the Olympic world, tour Olympic venues and different areas throughout Korea.”
“The Olympics have long been an opportunity to showcase emerging media technology,” said Gary Zenkel, president of NBC Olympics, in a statement. “With the help of Intel’s industry-leading virtual reality technology, NBC Olympics will deliver a transformative experience that will bring to Olympic fans an entirely new perspective on the speed, thrills and excitement of an Olympic Winter Games.”
In addition to the live VR events, NBC and Intel will be producing behind-the-scenes VR content prior to the start of the games on Feb. 9.