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Fox Sports Inks 5-Year Virtual Reality Pact With NextVR

Fox Sports plans to bring a host of live virtual-reality experiences to sports fans — including this Sunday’s Daytona 500 — under a five-year partnership with live-streaming specialist NextVR.

The parties claimed the pact to broadcast live sports in VR is a first for the industry, and will include a range of top sporting events for which Fox Sports holds broadcast rights. In January, NextVR and Fox Sports showcased the Premier Boxing Champions matches in VR, and will deliver Sunday’s Daytona 500 in live VR as well.

For NASCAR’s Daytona 500, Fox Sports said the high-definition VR experience will deliver immersive action from the starting line, the middle of the infield and among team racing crews on pit row. The live virtual stream will include audio commentary and graphics highlighting race leaders. The Daytona 500 virtual-reality broadcast will be available free through the NextVR portal; owners of Samsung Gear VR headsets can download the NextVR app to access the live stream.

“It’s all about delivering something new and exciting for our viewers,” said Eric Shanks, Fox Sports’ president, COO and executive producer. “Virtual reality is the next great frontier in immersive experiences for fans across a wide variety of sports.”

NextVR raised $30.5 million in funding last fall from Comcast, Time Warner and other investors.

Last year, Fox Sports and NextVR tested live VR broadcasts at the Auto Club 400 NASCAR race in Fontana, Calif., and the U.S. Open Golf Championship from Chambers Bay in University Place, Wash.

“We have worked with Fox Sports for over a year to test live virtual-reality programming across several sports,” NextVR executive chairman Brad Allen said. “This wide-ranging agreement is proof that our technology provides an exciting and compelling option to witness great sporting events in virtual reality.”

Future virtual reality programming from Fox Sports will be available on the NextVR portal, which will include a dedicated Fox Sports section.

Founded in 2009, NextVR says it has more than 26 patents granted or pending for capture, compression, transmission and display of VR content.

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