NBA commits to virtual reality, revamps League Pass for global market

The National Basketball Association has agreed a partnership with virtual reality broadcast technology company NextVR and revamped its League Pass online streaming service for the international market.

As part of the deal, NextVR becomes the official League Pass VR partner. NBA Digital and NextVR will live stream at least one League Pass game per week in virtual reality during the 2016-17 season. The NBA said this marks the first regular schedule of live games delivered in VR by a professional sports league.

The weekly games will be available as part of the League Pass full season package. The VR broadcasts will be fully produced with dedicated announcers, multiple unmanned camera angles and optimised graphics. Game breaks will be filled with in-venue entertainment, behind-the-scenes footage from the arena and VR-specific commentary.

Meanwhile, the NBA has said its international fans will be able to watch highlights in near real-time as part of changes to the League Pass International service for the 2016-17 season. The new feature, NBA Rapid Replay, will be available through various packages tailored to meet the demands of fans throughout the world.

A new monthly service, NBA Game Choice, will also allow fans to watch any two live games per week for around $10 (€9) per month.

“Our International League Pass has been a really successful product for a number of years, allowing our fans to access an enormous amount of content,” Alex Kaplan, senior vice-president of global media distribution for the NBA, told the AFP news agency. “But as our fan base grows internationally, we wanted to make sure we were giving even more fans the opportunity to experience the best of the NBA.”

The full NBA League Pass International offering will also feature a range of services including on-demand replays of full-length or condensed games as well as video archives of classic games, interviews and documentaries.