- Turner Sports has partnered with Intel to provide virtual reality (VR) content for NBA on TNT games through Intel's True VR technology, according to a news release.
- The VR content tips off with the 2018 NBA All-Star Game where Intel will allow fans to experience the on-court action from different locations within the arena using a to-be-released NBA on TNT VR app. The app will available on Samsung Gear VR and Google Daydream headsets, as well as for download on the Oculus and Google Play stores.
- Intel is also working with the NBA on producing 360-degree volumetric video to distribute to the professional sports league's broadcast partners. In the future, Intel plans to build out the complexity of its NBA VR content, including by letting users and commentators pause moments from the game and view them from the perspective of players on the court.
Most marketers are mulling whether and where VR fits into their brands' strategies, but professional sports are more often providing standout examples of how the technology can add an extra layer of immersion to keep content engaging. VR is a natural vehicle for getting fans closer to the action, opening a more complex and interactive point of view that linear TV can't really provide. Those qualities could extend to advertising and content marketing as well, and brands are nothing if not eager to attach their names to professional sports.
The NBA deal echoes one Intel struck in June with Major League Baseball to bring free live and on-demand VR content to fans through its Intel True VR app.
One of the hurdles to VR adoption by consumers has been the expensive and often unwieldy hardware that powers it, but major providers like Facebook's Oculus, Google and others have recently attempted to address this issue with lower-priced, less clunky offerings. Turner Sports and Intel are also facilitating easy access through a mobile app compatible with a variety of platforms.
For networks like Turner, VR and other emerging technology areas are appealing as a way to attract fresh fan interest as TV ratings are generally on the decline.