How to Watch NBA in VR
At its peak in 2017, more than 20 million Americans watched the NBA finals. It’s still going strong in 2019, with over 15 million viewers. Traditionally, people tend to watch the NBA season at home on a flat-screen television. The courtside environment makes it feel more intimate and intense than many other professional sports.
The NBA is popular for many reasons that make it stand out from other American sports, such as the inclination for team rivalry and the sheer unpredictability of the game itself.
As such, it’s no surprise that the idea of bringing the NBA experience to viewers using virtual reality has now come to fruition.
What is Virtual Reality?
Virtual reality is the creation of simulated environments using computer technology. The visualisation aspect of this simulated environment is key, so the now-familiar headsets play a central part in the dramatization of a virtual event. Traditional user interfaces operate by using screens to allow the user to view the experience in a one-dimensional manner.
Virtual reality interfaces, on the other hand, completely immerse the user in a three dimensional universe that they can often navigate and exert a degree of control over.
Where traditional interfaces rely on one sense for user interaction, virtual ones often stimulate a number of senses in order to bring about a more realistic and immersive experience.
Virtual Reality and Sci-Fi
A science-fiction story written by Stanley G. Weinbaum provided a shockingly accurate portrayal of what was then non-existent: virtual reality.
In the story, Pygmalion’s Spectacles, Weinbaum imagines a movie that stimulates other senses aside from sight and sound; one that includes taste, smell, and even touch. As the idea develops, the person is in the center of the story, and Weinbaum contemplates the notion that this is akin to turning a dream into reality.
What’s really eerie is the fact that this story was written in 1935, decades before work with virtual reality was even in its infancy stages. Progress in this field was complementary to the progress with computers.
Still, the field of virtual reality has often been caricatured, complete with images of getting stuck in a virtual world. In today’s technologically advanced world, it seems that culture is willing to give virtual reality a second glance.
Everything You Need to Get Started with Virtual Reality
It’s one thing to be fascinated about virtual reality; it’s another thing entirely to figure out how to become immersed in a virtual world. Luckily, we’re here to help you gather everything you need to get started with virtual reality.
The first thing you will need is a virtual reality headset. This device looks a bit like swimming goggles gone mad, really. No matter what type you buy, it will have this general appearance: goggle eyes and a stretchy strap.
In order to actively use virtual reality, however, you will need some other items, the most important one being the device you will use in order to run apps and games.
See, many companies are catching onto the virtual reality trend, and much like downloading an app for your phone, they create special apps that are tailored for virtual reality headsets.
Some headsets require a computer to run these apps or games, while others need you to clip your phone into the front of the headset itself. Thus, you need to make sure the phone you have will fit into the headset you buy.
Once you have these preliminary items, you can buy whatever accessories you desire (a joystick if your main hobby is playing driving games, for example) and then simply follow the user’s manual in order to get started.
How to Watch NBA in VR
Now that you know the basics about virtual reality and how to set up a virtual reality headset, let’s dive into the central topic at hand: how to watch the NBA using a virtual reality device.
NBA League Pass
Working in conjunction with NextVR, the NBA Digital team offers sports fans what’s known as an “NBA League Pass”. There are different sorts of passes available including:
- Standard NBA League Pass
- NBA League Pass VR
- League Pass Premium
If you’re keen to watch live games you need to have one of these, or you can pay for a single game. If you want to watch the games in a virtual reality environment you need to purchase the NBA League Pass VR. Alternatively, if you simply want to watch them on a massive virtual screen, any of the subscriptions will suffice.
The Importance of Device Compatibility
As you’ll see, device compatibility is the single most important thing you need to check before trying to access any virtual reality apps.
Due to its collaboration with NextVR, the NBA has similar compatibility requirements to their app. Many popular brands of VR headsets are compatible with both the NBA League Pass VR and the NextVR, so you shouldn’t have too much difficulty finding a headset that’s suitable. Always remember to check compatibility, no matter what app you may be downloading.
NextVR is the number one virtual reality platform in the world. This company specializes in transforming live sports and music events into a virtual reality experience.
Fans from all around the world can enjoy their favorite musicians or sports games in an immersive 3D environment, making them feel as if they’re actually physically present at the event itself.
NextVR has partnered with a wide variety of entertainment providers including the NBA, Live Nation, WWE, Fox Sports, and the International Champions Cup.
How to Use NextVR
To take advantage of the NextVR experience, the first thing you have to do is buy a virtual reality headset. In order to ensure compatibility with the Next VR app, you should follow the guidelines laid out on their website regarding what headset to buy. Next VR states that the following headsets will definitely be compatible with their app:
- Oculus Go
- Oculus Rift
- Gear VR
- Playstation VR
- HTC Vive
- Windows Mixed Reality
If you’ve never used virtual reality before and just want to buy a basic model to get started, you can try shopping for bargains online or in stores. You should note, however, that not all VR headsets will perform effectively with all VR apps.
Therefore, if you’re really enthusiastic about experiencing the NBA using virtual reality, your best bet is to only choose from one of the headsets listed above in order to ensure compatibility and optimum performance.
After purchasing a headset, set it up according to the manufacturer’s instructions or user manual. When it’s ready, go to the app store available on the headset itself.
Search for NextVR and download the app. From there, you simply take a look at the schedule and decide what you want to watch!
Try Before You Buy
Another nifty thing about NextVR is that you can preview it before actually going out to purchase a headset. You simply download it to your cell phone using Google Play or the App Store to get a feel for how the virtual experience will be.
Consequently, you can test it out to see how you like it before going through the steps mentioned above.
Three Ways to Watch Live NBA Games Using NextVR
For the 2018-19 NBA, NextVR really pushed the boat out with regards to their innovative virtual reality techniques. They provided fans with three different ways to watch live NBA games using their app:
- Option 1
The first way is focused on how much material is produced in virtual reality itself. They showed one game a week which was featured on the NextVR platform. These games are produced fully in virtual reality.
NextVR is a company that really involves itself with the virtual reality process, evident by the fact that they had their own crew at the NBA. They had 8 to 10 cameras wrapped around the arena, their own commentary team, analysts, reporters, and even play-by-play. They tailored everything specifically to the virtual reality audience.
What about your favorite team, you might ask? Well, one of the great things about NextVR is that they get to meet all of the NBA teams and go to all of the games in a season, so you can rest assured that your favorite team will definitely pop up as one of the featured games.
Moreover, the higher profile teams like the Warriors and Lakers will often have more games during a season, so even if you’re just a casual fan who likes watching the big teams, you’ll have plenty of games to choose from.
- Option 2
The second way to watch live NBA games using NextVR is brought about due to a collaboration between NextVR and Oculus. During the 2018-19 NBA season, NextVR partnered with Oculus in order to bring about a really innovative way of enjoying virtual reality.
Basically, if you have an Oculus Go or Samsung Gear VR, you can watch it in a virtual arena with family and friends. And no, you don’t have to all be sitting in the same room either.
For the first time, anyone in the world can drop into this virtual arena. You could have a buddy halfway across the world, and another two cities away, and you can all access the same area at the same time and sit beside each other and have a conversation. It’s like a virtual reality version of logging into your Xbox, except much snazzier.
Also similar to modern game consoles, the Oculus has an avatar, and if you drop into one of these virtual reality games using your Oculus device, you’ll get an exclusive jersey of your favorite team to add to your avatar.
When sitting in the virtual stadium, you can look down and see your jersey. It’s literally the closest experience you can get to actually being present at the NBA game itself.
- Option 3
The third way to watch live NBA games using NextVR involves taking traditional games and turning them into viewing extravaganzas. You can use the NextVR platform to watch every single NBA game every night of the week.
We’ve seen how they broadcast one a week in virtual reality mode. And no, the rest of the games are not broadcast in this manner.
However, every game is projected in a screening room environment, so they take the traditional flat TV experience and bring it into a device known as a screening room. This transforms what you see in your VR headset into a mega screen, similar to having a cinema experience in your living room.
Social or Solitary?
On the surface, using a VR headset to watch a live NBA game appears to be a decidedly solitary affair. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this, either.
Some sports fans prefer deep concentration and relaxation when watching their favorite sport, so using a VR headset in a solitary setting is highly understandable.
This is particularly true if you’re one of those people who hates any kind of talking or loud cheering when you’re watching something on traditional TV.
However, if you’re more of a social butterfly, and can’t comprehend why you would exchange beers and conversation with friends for a lonesome watching experience, you’ll be happy to know that you can make your VR experience into something of a social gathering. Whichever you choose, you can rest assured that your viewing experience will be truly memorable.
The main way to turn your virtual reality experience into a social one is to use the method of watching the NBA game in a virtual arena with family and friends. Everyone involved needs to have the appropriate equipment in order to access the arena.
Again, this is like joining the online community of Xbox Live, where everyone has to have an Xbox and an internet connection. This is pretty standard, so if you’re from a family or group of friends who are all into sports, a compatible VR headset and smartphone are worthwhile investments.
Can you imagine times when you’re separated from your loved ones, and after a Skype session you can all virtually gather round and watch an NBA game together? Companies like NextVR and NBA Digital are truly making family time unforgettable experiences.
The best way to enjoy your favorite NBA team solo is to simply go the more traditional route by investing in a virtual reality headset and tuning into the game in a space where you won’t be disturbed.
In this sense, it’s similar to playing computer games or chatting online with someone. There are times when you simply want to be alone and interference from family or friends can be frustrating, so just close the door to your man (or woman) cave and enjoy your solo activity in peace and quiet.
The Benefits of Virtual Reality
The primary benefit of virtual reality is that it can provide you with an interactive, 3-dimensional experience that you may not be able to access otherwise.
For example, watching NBA games using virtual reality allows you to experience what it’s like to be courtside without having to pay for tickets or undergoing any other inconveniences that attending events in person can bring about.
If you’re a hardcore fan, you might simply think that there is no substitute for being there in person, but virtual reality represents the closest thing to actual reality.
Other benefits of virtual reality include the ability to visualize concepts or information in a more tangible way. Thus, virtual reality has promising potential for areas of life where education and learning are paramount.
One example of this might be schools in the future teaching science using virtual reality. Can you imagine being up close to the units of a biological cell or a chemical equation? Changing the representation of information will inevitably transform our perception of the world.
Virtual reality headsets are still a relatively new technology that have not yet achieved mainstream success in the same way as smartphones or the internet.
However, all technologies have to start somewhere, and it is exciting to think about how virtual reality headsets will improve and become more complex in the years to come.
Think about it comparatively: do you remember when cellphones had push buttons, only came in black with a little antenna at the side, and the snake game was the fad of the day? Do you remember the dial tone of your old internet?
Look at how far these things have come. In another decade or two, virtual reality will probably be almost indiscernible from actual reality, and this represents infinite possibilities for its use.
For now, virtual reality can still provide us with multiple options for enjoying our hobbies in a new way. Video games, puzzles, brain training, and live events around the world are just some of the things we can use a virtual reality headset for.