Watch the Final Four in VR. But this year you have to pay

Intel teams up with Turner and CBS to take college basketball fans courtside -- in virtual reality -- for March Madness.

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.
Terry Collins
2 min read

Basketball fans can once again see the NCAA Final Four in virtual reality.

Turner Sports

Looking for another way to watch all of the March Madness?

Intel's new virtual reality arm, along with Turner and CBS Sports, are once again making the NCAA men's basketball tournament games available in VR. In addition to the Final Four and national championship games next month, coverage will also include three games from this weekend's Sweet 16 matchups at the West Region in San Jose, California.

And instead of just one camera angle to make you feel like you're sitting courtside, fans this year can choose to watch the action from multiple views. There will be as many as 48 cameras in play for games this weekend and up to 84 for Final Four weekend.

The coverage is part of a new multiyear deal between Intel True VR, which acquired VokeVR last year, the NCAA and the broadcast networks. (Editors' note: CNET is owned by CBS.)

"We're giving fans the choice to see which angle they want," said David Aufhauser, Intel Sports' managing director of strategy and product. "We're hoping to provide a unique experience."

Watching the college basketball's Big Dance in virtual reality for a second year comes as two of the sport's biggest conferences, the Big East and the ACC, aired their tournaments in VR earlier this month. The Big East teamed with Fox Sports and LiveLike, and the ACC partnered with EON Sports VR.

While numbers of how many fans watched last year's Final Four in VR weren't made available, adding to ongoing skepticism about its growth, Intel's Aufhauser said his company's deal with the NCAA, Turner and CBS shows "a commitment" to the medium.

He believes VR is well beyond an early stage, but rather in "acceleration mode."

"In other words, there's a lot of momentum in the marketplace and an investment to expand the offering," he said. "I feel we're on the cusp of it really starting to take off."

The games will also feature a virtual scoreboard with live stats. Fans will need to strap on a Samsung Gear VR headset using Samsung phones and download either the NCAA March Madness Live app and the Intel True VR app in the Oculus Store.

Unlike last year when the Final Four was available in VR for free, fans will have to pay up for the experience this year.

Fans can either pay $1.99 per game for the Silver Ticket option to watch a 180-degree courtside stream featuring the CBS Sports broadcasting team, or pay for the Gold Ticket option to watch not only courtside, but also the multiple camera options for either $2.99 per game or $7.99 for all six games.

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