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Intel, NBC Sports unveil landmark VR plans for winter Olympics

US technology firm Intel has partnered with the NBC Sports Group division of media company NBCUniversal, rights-holder for the Olympic Games in the United States, to unveil significant virtual reality coverage plans for the forthcoming winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

In June, Intel joined The Olympic Partner (TOP) worldwide sponsorship program, becoming a Worldwide TOP Partner through to the 2024 summer Olympic Games. At the time, Intel said it would seek to drive new innovations designed to transform the Olympic Games experience and it revealed its VR plans at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas yesterday (Monday).

Intel chief executive Brian Krzanich announced that the company will enable the largest scale virtual reality event to date with Pyeongchang 2018 using Intel True VR technology. Intel, together with the official rights holding broadcasters, will capture a record 30 Olympic events, with both live and video-on-demand content available. This marks the first-ever live virtual reality broadcast of the Olympic winter Games and will be available in the US via a forthcoming NBC Sports VR app.

NBC Olympics added that it will provide more than 50 hours of live virtual reality coverage powered by Intel True VR from Pyeongchang to authenticated users with Windows Mixed Reality headsets, Samsung Gear VR, and both Google Cardboard and Google Daydream, via the NBC Sports VR app.

The more than 50 hours of live VR programming, supplied to NBC Olympics by Olympic Broadcasting Services, will include the opening and closing ceremonies, alpine skiing, curling, snowboarding, skeleton, figure skating, short track, ski jumping, ice hockey and big air.

In addition, NBC Olympics will offer VR replays of all events previously livestreamed; one daily 360-degree video of a sport not available in VR the previous day; and packaged highlights from the day before.

NBC Olympics will also provide content prior to the start of the Games, with behind-the-scenes content captured with Intel True VR technology. VR users will be able to experience a winter sports athlete prepare for the Games; witness the culture and sights of South Korea; and explore the Pyeongchang Olympic venues.

Programming will span every day of the Games – with the exception of February 18 – beginning the day of the opening ceremony on February 9, and concluding with the closing ceremony on February 25.

NBC Olympics’ first foray into VR was for the Rio Olympics in 2016 under a partnership with Korean consumer electronics company Samsung. However, most programming was presented on next-day delay.