US network Fox Sports will begin broadcasting live sporting events in 360-degree virtual reality starting on February 21, having signed a five-year deal with VR firm NextVR. Their first broadcast takes place Sunday with the Daytona 500 Nascar race in Florida.
NextVR has been paving the way for such broadcasts having tested the waters during political debates, VR industry events and the opening game of the NBA's 2015-16 season in October 2015. That game was broadcast with the support of the NBA and Turner Sports, the company which owns Fox Sports, and was just one of many experiments.
It's unclear what headsets will support the broadcasts. The NBA game was broadcast to the Samsung Gear VR, which is cheaper than the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR because it utilises Samsung phones as a screen.
"This is a watershed moment, or tipping point in the world of virtual reality," said Brad Allen, executive chairman at NextVR (via Fox News). "Fox Sports is a major player and this partnership with them is a milestone in VR and providing these live experiences is unlike anything before. We're very excited."
Fox Sports president, COO and executive producer Eric Shanks said in a statement (via VR Focus): "Virtual reality is the next great frontier in immersive experiences for fans across a wide variety of sports. It's a rapidly changing technology, and this deal with NextVR positions us to be on the front lines for years to come."
Fox has yet to detail what events will be broadcast in VR, but the channel has the rights to show NFL, Major League Baseball and the US Open Golf Championship.