Comcast/NBCU to broadcast 85 hours of Olympics coverage in VR

NBCUniversal said it will stream 85 hours of Summer Olympics coverage in virtual reality to authenticated pay-TV users equipped with Samsung Galaxy smartphones and Samsung Gear VR headsets.

The coverage will include both the opening and closing ceremonies in Rio, as well as men's basketball, gymnastics, track and field, beach volleyball, diving, boxing and fencing events. Various highlight packages from those sports will be shown in VR, as well.

The VR programming will be released on time delay. For example, the opening ceremonies coverage will be viewable on Aug. 6, the day after the event. 

The announcement highlights the bullishness with which NBCU parent Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) is approaching VR. The company has already made a number of notable investments in the VR market through its Comcast Ventures arm.  

"VR technology carries incredible potential for the sport broadcast industry, offering a truly immersive user experience," said Yiannis Exarchos, CEO of Olympic Broadcasting Service, which will capture the VR coverage and supply it to NBC Olympics. "Our first test in Lillehammer, together with Samsung, for the Winter Youth Olympic Games was highly successful and we look forward to further exploring this exciting technology with NBC in Rio."

Comcast will make an unprecedented amount of Summer Olympics coverage on its NBCUniversal channels a showcase for the advanced capabilities of its X1 set-top.

Nearly 6,000 hours of combined Rio Games coverage available on X1. Speaking at INTX in Boston last month, Comcast Chairman and CEO Brian Roberts said the coverage will offer "a real glimpse at the future of television," which viewers able to access virtually any event — live or on-demand — and augment the viewing experience with X1 interactive features. 

"It will be a complete takeover of the X1 platform," he said.

For more:
- read this NBCU press release
- read this story from TheVerge

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