Virtual Reality to be prevalent throughout college basketball tournaments

Virtual reality’s rise in popularity has been constant for a while. Now, the technological craze will be used throughout March Madness.

After last year’s NCAA Final Four games were featured in virtual reality, Turner Broadcasting president David Levy said that VR will return to the tournament this year. On top of that, both the Big East Men’s Basketball Tournament and the Atlantic Coast Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament will provide live streams of games.

“We believe in it in a big, big way,” Levy said in a recent interview with Sporttechie, “Where I thought 3D honestly from the get-go was going to have challenges, I don’t feel the same way at all about virtual reality. I think that’s here to stay, here to grow, and I think it lets people get a front row seat and actually feel the action, which is going to be very unique.”

Last year, Turner teamed up with VOKE and Samsung Gear VR to create the NCAA March Madness Live VR app, which provided a 180-degree virtual reality live stream of the final three games of the tournament. Expect a formal announcement from Turner regarding VR game coverage in the coming days, with perhaps even more contests available via virtual reality.

“The data that we have shows that people who did watch it enjoyed it,” Levy said “It’s just a small sample size right now relative to the size of the tournament, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t invest. We have to keep investing and keep innovating, and I think we do a really good job of that in this organization.”

Likewise, FOX Sports will team up with VR company LiveLike to bring the Big East Tournament through the FOX Sports VR app. It will begin with four quarterfinal games on Thursday.

Sponsored by Jeep, the virtual reality experience will feature user-selected views, a highlights package after each game, and a “director’s cut” which will move the viewer’s vantage points around the court to follow the action.

The FOX Sports VR app can also be utilized without virtual reality glasses. Instead, college basketball fans can install the app and sign in with their television provider credentials.

“We’re thrilled to give every college basketball fan the opportunity to sit at virtual courtside at Madison Square Garden, where year in, year out, the Big East Tournament provides some of the most entertaining basketball of the season,” said Miheer Walavalkar, chief business officer of LiveLike.

Lastly, the ACC partnered with virtual reality company EON Sports VR and technology company Sports Labs to launch the ACC Virtual Reality experience, presented by Citi. The app includes a live stream of the men’s tournament which can be accessed without a service provider.

The app also features exclusive content such as locker room tours, front row views, and other behind-the-scenes content. After a first-round contest between North Carolina State and Clemson on Tuesday, the ACC posted a VR clip of the game on Youtube.

“The Atlantic Coast Conference is proud to launch ACC Virtual Reality presented by Citi,” ACC Commissioner John Swofford said in a statement. “The ACC continues to look at ways to provide fans with unique experiences, and ACC VR is an innovation that allows our content to be showcased in a new way.”

With all the exciting college basketball games on the horizon, be sure to turn to virtual reality to get the courtside feel while sitting on the couch.

About author

Nick Frazier
Nick Frazier 17 posts

Nick is an intern for Snack Media and a contributor to Digital Sport. You can follow him on Twitter @nikfraz14.

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