ESPN to show X Games in virtual reality

The sports network will stream skateboarding and BMX racing events for the first time in VR using 360-degree cameras.

Terry Collins
Terry Collins Staff Reporter, CNET News
Terry writes about social networking giants and legal issues in Silicon Valley for CNET News. He joined CNET News from the Associated Press, where he spent the six years covering major breaking news in the San Francisco Bay Area. Before the AP, Terry worked at the Star Tribune in Minneapolis and the Kansas City Star. Terry's a native of Chicago.
Chad Kerley, of San Diego, soars high over a jump with no hands on the handlebars to win the gold m

Look Ma, no hands: BMX street biker Chad Kerley soaring to a gold medal during the 2013 X Games.

Getty Images

Now you'll be able to see BMX street stud Chad Kerley flip, twist and spin all over your head in virtual reality.

ESPN will stream part of its X Games in VR for the first time starting Thursday. The sports network is teaming up with Samsung to show the event in Minneapolis using 360-degree cameras to 48 countries across the globe. 

Fans can catch the BMX Street, Skateboard Vert and Skateboard Street Amateurs competitions using the Gear VR headset.

The sport network's popular extreme sporting event is the latest to attempt reaching a new audience using VR. Last season, the NBA became the first pro sports league to broadcast weekly games in VR. Meanwhile, Intel is becoming a major VR player by not only streaming this year's Final Four in virtual reality, but also weekly Major League Baseball games. Additionally, Intel says it will broadcast 16 events in VR during the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

As for ESPN, X Games executive Tim Reed said in a statement that the two-decade-old action sports competition has always been "a laboratory for innovation and progression," including placing helmet cams on bikers and skateboarders.

"We are always pushing to create new and better ways for fans to experience and interact," he said.