Gear VR Owners Can Watch The Rio Olympics In Virtual Reality

85 hours of this year’s Olympics will be viewable using a VR headset.

Gear VR Owners Can Watch The Rio Olympics In Virtual Reality
[Photo: courtesy of Samsung]

Last October, Samsung offered exclusive live streaming of one of the DNC debates using the Gear VR, its virtual reality headset. It was the first major debate to be presented in VR, but in the end the presentation, which switched between four different 180-degree views of the debate, fell short of many people’s expectations.


Now Samsung is at it again, announcing Thursday that it has partnered with NBC to once again offer exclusive content for the Gear VR, this time of the Olympic Games in Rio. Unlike October’s debate, the broadcasts will be in 360 degrees, so you’ll be able to look anywhere in the room whenever you want (something that was awkward with the DNC broadcast, where there wasn’t a full 360 degrees to view). The Olympic broadcast will also be shown on a delay rather than live, something that will give Samsung a little more of an opportunity to fine-tune what’s presented to Gear VR owners.

“The world’s greatest sporting event is always a showcase for cutting-edge technology, and we’re thrilled to partner with Samsung and OBS to bring our viewers even closer to compelling Olympic action with virtual reality,” said Gary Zenkel, president, NBC Olympics in a statement. “Olympic fans can be transported to iconic venues such as Maracana Stadium for an unprecedented view of the Opening Ceremony, and Copacabana Beach for an immersive beach volleyball experience in the sport’s ultimate setting.”

In total, Olympic Broadcasting Services will capture 85 hours of the games, which will include coverage of the opening and closing ceremonies and coverage of gymnastics, beach volleyball, boxing, diving, fencing, and men’s basketball. The group previously worked with Samsung to create similar VR content in Lillehammer, at the Winter Youth Olympic Games.

In order to view any of the content, you’ll have to own a compatible Samsung phone, which currently includes the Galaxy S6 and S7 lines as well as the Galaxy Note 5. The VR content will only be accessible through the NBC Sports app, which also requires you have access to the channel through your TV provider.

Thursday’s announcement from Samsung is one of many VR-related announcements the company has made recently. Last week at VidCon it announced limited availability for its 360-degree consumer camera, Gear 360, as well as a new program to help encourage content creators to work with 360-degree video. The company also rebranded Milk VR as simply Samsung VR, opening the site up for contributions from amateur as well as professional videos.

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About the author

Emily is a journalist based in San Francisco.