Basketball fans will soon have the opportunity to sit courtside at the NBA All-Star Game without having to travel to New York this weekend.
The National Basketball Association said Friday it has partnered with BigLook360, a company that makes virtual-reality cameras, to record several All-Star weekend events in full VR. The NBA's camerapeople will position VR cameras at front-row seats, the scorers' table, and more, to record the All-Star Game, three-point competition, slam dunk contest, and a private practice session for players participating in the dunk challenge.
All-Star Weekend kicks off Friday, culminating on Sunday with the All-Star Game at Madison Square Garden.
The NBA will make the edited footage available to Samsung's Milk VR app store in the next few weeks. The content can then be downloaded for free and viewed on Samsung's Gear VR virtual-reality headset.
Virtual reality is slowly but surely making its way into the mainstream, thanks in large part to Facebook-owned Oculus VR. The company has built a virtual-reality headset, called the Rift, that focuses on gaming, but has brought such headsets back into the spotlight. Samsung last year announced that it had partnered with Oculus on its Gear VR. The company's Milk VR app store is designed to extend beyond gaming and includes a wide range of passive-viewing content.
The addition of the NBA All-Star Weekend festivities could be an important boost for virtual reality. The appeal is that VR content puts users into the environment, allowing them to look around and see things they wouldn't normally see watching a program on television. By recording the events in VR, the NBA is essentially putting Gear VR owners in the best seats in the house -- for free.
The NBA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.