College hoops fans this year will be able to catch NCAA March Madness final games streamed live in 180-degree virtual reality for the first time — another shot in the arm for the still-nascent VR landscape.
The free VR stream of the NCAA Final Four Semifinals and National Championship, shot from a courtside perspective, will be produced by Turner Sports in partnership with CBS, Facebook’s Oculus and VR tech firm Voke. The experience will be available via a new virtual-reality version of the NCAA March Madness Live app in the Oculus Store to users of Samsung Gear VR powered by Oculus.
For those without the necessary VR hardware, the games will be available in a 2D, 180-degree live stream on desktops — along with 360-degree highlights — on the NCAA March Madness Facebook page. The VR broadcast is sponsored by Capital One.
Along with the live game, viewers will also have the opportunity to view a virtual scoreboard with live stats. Audio will include game commentary from Jim Nantz, Grant Hill, Bill Raftery and Tracy Wolfson during the telecast airing on TBS. Additionally, the full tournament bracket will also be presented in the VR app, with video highlights from each game.
TBS will televise the Final Four Semifinals on Saturday, April 2 — pitting Oklahoma vs. Villanova, and Syracuse vs. UNC — and the National Championship game on April 4, marking the first time the title game is airing on cable TV. In addition to the traditional coverage on TBS, “Team Stream by Bleacher Report” and team-specific productions will be available on TNT and truTV.