Two Saturday races prior to the Kentucky Derby, including the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic, will also be presented in virtual reality. The events mark the NBC Sports Group’s first foray into live virtual reality, said NextVR.
The VR presentation of the Kentucky Derby will be available free through the NBC channel on the NextVR portal. To view the events, consumers must download the free NextVR app for smartphones compatible with the Samsung Gear VR headset. The app is available in the Oculus Home app store.
Samsung Gear VR owners can download the NextVR app on any Gear VR-compatible phones. Details are available at Nextvr.com/gearvr-live. Additional viewing platforms will be available soon, the company said.
Seven VR cameras will be used for the broadcast, with five placed trackside to capture an uninterrupted view of the race. One of them will capture a view of the owners’ suites. Two cameras will be in the paddock area to show the horses before they’re paraded to the starting gate.
The audio feed will include the race call from NBC’s Larry Collmus and commentary from NBC announcers Tom Hammond, Jerry Bailey and Randy Moss.
The VR presentation will also include specially created NBC Sports content, including feature stories, statistics, race data and updated betting odds. The information will be displayed on a virtual video screen during the VR presentation, to mimic the giant screen at Churchill Downs.
NextVR, launched in 2009, has more than 23 patents granted or pending for the capture, compression, transmission and display of VR content. The company claims to be the only company capable of transmitting live high-definition VR content over the Internet.
Earlier this week, it announced that it teamed up with music-venue operator Live Nation to broadcast hundreds of live concerts around the world in 360-degree VR.
NextVR has also streamed multiple live events in 360-degree high-definition video, including this year’s 2016 Big East Men’s Basketball Tournament quarterfinal, semifinal and championship games at Madison Square Garden in conjunction with Fox Sports. The two also brought the Daytona 500 and a Premier Boxing Champions fight this year to virtual reality, and in 2015, they tested a VR broadcast of the U.S. Open from Chambers Bay.
Also last year, NextVR delivered VR broadcasts of a Democratic presidential debate and the NBA’s season-opening game.