NCAA March Madness is coming back to virtual reality (VR) for Samsung Gear VR viewers and this time, it's pay per view.
If you're a basketball fan and a Samsung Gear VR owner, the latest announcement from Oculus will feel like Christmas has come early. Building upon last year's coverage, viewers will be able to watch all of the final six games of the tournament in full VR. Viewing options will include multiple camera angles, a special commentary and a courtside view for a more realistic in-the-venue experience. There's even a bracket view so fans can keep up with the tournament as the action unfolds.
The NCAA March Madness app is available from the Oculus store for Gear VR users. Unfortunately, HTC Vive and Oculus Rift users don't get a piece of the action this time around.
Pay Per View
Unlike the model most broadcasters have used so far, which simply require authorization via their viewer's cable service, the March Madness games will be pay per view. This is an interesting move that could identify a potential new revenue stream for events.
There are two subscription tiers available. The gold tier gives viewers all six games for $7.99 or $2.99 per game. The silver tier, at $1.99 per game offers just the courtside experience with the standard game commentary from the CBS TV broadcast.
How Many People Will Watch?
It's hard to say exactly how many people will watch the events but there are now at least 5 million Gear VR headsets out in the wild already. While this is a mere drop in the ocean compared to TV audiences, it's quite impressive considering how new the technology is.
Samsung may well be celebrating their successes but it's not been such an easy ride for Oculus. Dogged by sub-par sales performance, Oculus recently had to slash their sale price to shift units. It seems Oculus has a lot of catching up to do if it wants to remain relevant in the marketplace.
It's a very exciting time for VR at events and new innovations are happening all the time. Although the uptake so far is a slower than hardware manufacturers would like, the sporting world is proudly waving the VR flag and gaining a lot of momentum. With new revenue streams being identified, it's becoming a very attractive prospect for events.