The NBA’s Plan to Go Virtual with Turner Sports and NextVR

By Evan DeSimone

The NBA and Turner Sports have announced a partnership that will launch professional basketball into the virtual reality space.

The Golden State Warriors will take on the New Orleans Pelicans in a live stream presented by Turner Sports and the NBA in partnership with NextVR. Fans will be able to catch the contest on Samsung’s Gear VR headset. The broadcast, a first for the NBA, will stream through the NextVR app on on the Oculus home store. Fans will also be able to watch the Champion Warriors receive their Championship rings in a presentation ceremony that will also be captured in virtual reality.

The NBA has experimented with virtual reality content before. During the 2013–2014, season NextVR captured a game between the Denver Nuggets and the Warriors. The league has also distributed select game highlights on VR platforms. However, this broadcast will be the first league game to be streamed live in VR.

The common thread between all of the NBA’s dabblings in virtual content is Peter Guber, the co-founder and CEO of Mandalay Entertainment and former Sony Pictures chief whose credits as a producer include “Batman,” “Rain Man” and “The Witches of Eastwick.” Earlier this year, made a substantial investment in NextVR with an eye toward building out the company’s existing relationships with sports leagues, musicians and entertainment companies involved in creating live experiences. Guber is also a co-owner of the Golden State Warriors, an important role when one considers that live sports is expected to be a major driver in the widespread adoption of streaming virtual content.