The BBC has announced that viewers in the UK will be able to experience the 2016 Olympics, which are set to be officially opened in Rio de Janeiro tomorrow, in immersive 360-degree video. The coverage will include both live footage and highlights, viewable through browsers and using mobile VR headsets.
360-degree video, which lets the user pan around and view the content as if they're on-location, is fairly common nowadays. Last year, Facebook users started seeing 360-degree videos pop up in their News Feeds, and just this April, the ability to live stream the immersive content was introduced by YouTube.
For the Rio Olympics, the BBC will record around 100 hours of 360-degree video, from up to four separate camera angles. Each day, one event will be covered live, and daily highlights packages will be available. Both the opening and closing ceremonies will also receive the 360-degree video treatment.
The content will be available through a new BBC Sport 360 app, available on both iOS and Android. The video content will be viewable through Samsung's Gear VR headset, and using low-cost virtual reality headsets that work with smartphones, such as Google Cardboard. It'll also be possible to view the content on PC, via the company's website.
For the BBC, the event is an opportunity to explore the potential of 360-degree video and sport.
"There's huge potential for immersive video in sport coverage, as well as many other genres, and we want to explore that potential directly with audiences," said project Editorial Lead, Will Saunders. "That's why we experiment out in the open, so people can tell us what works, what doesn't and whether there's an appetite for more. We can't wait to hear what people think."
This isn't the first news we've heard of companies giving their Olympics coverage a shot in the arm. Earlier this week we learned that NHK-Japan – the country's national broadcaster – plans to broadcast 130 hours of content from the event in 8K, at public viewings around Japan and Brazil.
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