Major League Baseball to Broadcast Live Games in Virtual Reality


Edward C. Baig

NEW YORK — Major League Baseball is about to play ball — in virtual reality.

The league is teaming up with Intel to broadcast Game of the Week live in VR, starting Tuesday when the Colorado Rockies host the Cleveland Indians. Weekly matches will be blocked in participating teams’ local markets, much like the league handles out-of-market feeds on MLB TV and Twitter.

The non-exclusive Intel-MLB virtual reality partnership is set for three years. Terms of the contract are not disclosed.

You will need a Samsung Gear VR (and a compatible smartphone) to virtually enjoy the game, and you must also download the Intel True VR app, available for free from the Oculus store.

To get you closer to the pitch, Intel plans to use a range of 4K resolution cameras in the home team stadium, giving fans up to four camera angles per game in real time. So you may be able to look from the perspective of the coaches at first or third base, or from the dugout. Or in the case of Chase Field where the Arizona Diamondbacks play, from the view of the outdoor pool. The camera modules are automated, so you can choose the views you want.

“Think of it as a highly personalized experience,” says David Aufhauser, product manager at Intel Sports Group.

You’ll also have the option to watch a fully produced VR show, with audio likely coming from the regular radio stream. Intel and the league do not have a dedicated VR broadcast advertising team. Statistics and highlights will also be available.

While Major League Baseball has dabbled in virtual reality before – with post-production efforts around last year’s All-Star Game and playoffs, and through some At Bat VR offers on the platform – form of virtual reality Google Daydream – the Intel partnership is the first in which full live games will be broadcast in virtual reality. This is something that rival leagues such as the NBA already offer on some games.

It remains to be seen whether fans will choose to watch a full three-hour baseball game with headphones.

Intel's VR production truck.

Kenny Gersh, executive vice president of business at MLB Advanced Media, says that when it comes to VR, we’re not even in the first round yet, and he expects the experiences offered to the end of the three-year agreement are very different. of what will be available next week. But he thinks the pace of a baseball game, in which there are pauses between throws and innings, will give fans the ability to switch between the different views a bit leisurely.

For now, Gersh says there are no plans to bring VR to this year’s All-Star Game, playoffs or World Series, in part due to rights issues.

And since Intel will only be placing its VR cameras in one stadium per week, there is no immediate backup in case the planned VR game runs out.

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For the perfect experience, watch 360 degrees on your cell phone or in VR headsets like Google Cardboard or Daydream. Subscribe to VRtually There on YouTube and browse the “Virtual Reality” section of the USA TODAY app ( ios | Android) to watch three new episodes each week.

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