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Volume 27 No. 6
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Intel To Provide Coverage Of 30 Events At Pyeongchang Games In VR

Intel will make its biggest push yet into VR sports content during the Pyeongchang Games, covering 30 events in the enhanced video format. The technology giant’s sports VR efforts took a prominent position in last night’s pre-CES keynote address in Las Vegas as the company made the first major demonstration of capabilities under a seven-year IOC TOP sponsorship announced last June. Intel will deploy its True VR at the Games, and promises to have more than 50 hours of live VR content and on-demand replays. Intel is providing the enhanced footage to Olympic Broadcast Services, which in turn will make it available to NBC for U.S. distribution, the CBC in Canada, Discovery in Europe and seven other international rights-holders. “Fans won’t just witness the moment. They will experience it, as if they’re actually there,” said Intel CEO Brian Krzanich. The planned Olympics VR coverage is far greater than anything Intel has done with its existing major pro league deals, said Intel Product Implementation Manager Blake Rowe. Along with the sheer volume of coverage in the relatively short time frame, Intel is installing at least three cameras at each venue so viewers can customize their experience and viewing angle. One option will be a fully produced VR broadcast that switches angles for the viewer; while others will offer natural sound in the VR Cast, and immersive camera footage edited into standard highlight clips. “The interactive nature we’ve provided in the app is something we’ve never done before,” Rowe said.

COVERAGE INCLUDES SKIING, FIGURE SKATING: The VR footage in the U.S. will be available on VR headsets made by Samsung, Google and Microsoft, on the NBC Sports VR App and NBC.com and its social media pages. “We’re very aware that not everyone has a headset yet in the world,” said Rowe. “Providing an experience for them that might not be the full 3D experience, but is an introduction to what that could be so they might go out and buy a headset or become a VR user is really important to us." Live VR coverage includes the men’s downhill skiing, the women’s snowboard halfpipe finals, men’s figure skating and big air men’s and women’s finals. All live events will also be available on-demand after they air. NBC said it would also provide VR programming ahead of the Games, including a look at an athlete’s preparations, features on the Korean culture and explorations of Olympic venues.

LOOKING AT OTHER SPORTS: Intel’s broad portfolio of sports initiatives and partnerships took a prominent role in the company’s nearly two-hour keynote presentation last night. In addition to the Olympics plans, the company touted its panoramic 360-degree replays, now renamed from freeD to Intel True View, that are being deployed in several major sports. Also showcased was a VR effort for NFL coverage that includes customized fantasy football content, as well as Intel’s active role in fast-growing esports competitions given the company’s status as a leading manufacturer of computer processor. Aiding Krzanich and Intel in these segments were CBS NFL analyst Tony Romo on stage and pre-taped appearances from several industry execs including Turner Sports COO Matt Hong, NBA VP/Global Media Distribution Jeff Marsilio and NFL Dir of Media Strategy & Business Development Will Deng, among others. The initiatives were presented in an overarching theme of the accelerating power of data to change many segments of life. “Almost everything you see here at CES ... they all start with data,” Krzanich said.