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Brief Published: 3 Nov 2016

NBA: Broadcasting for the VR Mass Market

NextVR for NBA

The US National Basketball League has partnered with California-based virtual reality (VR) production company NextVR to offer virtual live streams of its games. Moving beyond single-camera experiences, the NBA live streams will use eight cameras positioned around the court, with footage edited by on-site teams. The broadcasts will be a standard part of the NBA's subscription streaming and TV package, NBA League Pass.

Following this month's release of Sony's Playstation VR headset, analysts expect tech brands to sell a cumulative 12 million VR headsets by the end of 2016 (Statista, 2016), opening up an engagement space that is projected to be worth $38bn in the US alone by 2026 (Greenlight Insights, 2016). In response, Facebook's Live API and Twitter's Periscope Producer have enabled live streams from and to VR headsets, creating an infrastructure for instant full-immersion experiences accessible to any brand.

VR's visual language is still emerging. In January 2017, London's Royal Academy of Arts will explore this topic in its Virtually Real exhibition, which will feature VR sculptures created using the HTC Vive headset and Google's VR painting tool Tilt Brush, as well as 3D-printed physical recreations of the same virtual spaces. As the medium matures, proactive brands can really make their mark by working towards defining how we use VR's wraparound communication.

To learn more about the future of connecting via VR, see Synthetic Communities, part of our latest Macro Trend The Currency of Dissent. For more on current uses of mobile mixed reality, see State of Mobile: Summer 2016.