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Virtual Reality Apps

Juiced for Olympics in VR? Better grab a Samsung headset

For the first time, you can watch Olympic ceremonies and competition in virtual reality, but only if you have Samsung's devices and pay for traditional TV.

Nate Ralph

The Olympics are venturing into virtual reality for the first time, letting you beam yourself into the middle of your favorite event -- but only if you have a Samsung Gear VR and pay for cable or satellite.

Samsung and its Gear VR headset will be the exclusive virtual-reality device to watch the first VR footage of the games in Rio starting in August, the company said Thursday.

Josh Miller/CNET

A high-profile event like the Olympics is Samsung's bid to widen VR's appeal to more mainstream consumers and encourage their loyalty. Samsung is competing with rivals like higher-end Oculus Rift from Facebook and Vive from HTC in the buzzed-about, immersive format.

By clipping a Samsung smartphone into a special headset, Gear VR makes viewers feel like they're in the middle of the action.

NBCUniversal, which holds the broadcast rights to the Olympics in the US, picked Samsung as its exclusive partner. The company also said that to unlock the VR experiences in the NBCSports app, people will need log-in credentials for a pay-TV service.

VR programming will include the opening and closing ceremonies, gymnastics, track and field, beach volleyball, diving, boxing, fencing and men's basketball, as well as highlight packages of those sports. Altogether, it will add up to 85 hours of VR programming.