What’s it like watching NBA in virtual reality?
From the 2017-18 season, the NBA unveiled its latest foray into cutting-edge technology by allowing users to stream the NBA in Virtual Reality (VR). Basically a ticket to NBA Games you can attend… digitally!
Developed on top of the league’s pre-existing League Pass, this allows fans to access games for an annual fee. This virtual venture with NextVR has been one of the most successful introductions of VR to a non-gaming population.
The NBA, in particular, has delved into multiple technological advancements to stand out from the NFL and MLB in terms of popularity—and to compensate for fewer season ticket sales. Though guides to betting in Canada and the US provide ample information on how to wager safely on the NBA, the league sees less action than football and baseball, where betting is more popular.
By venturing into live VR, the basketball league is looking to stay relevant and provide fans a way to get in on the action, even if they aren’t wagering as much or filling seats in stadiums.
The MLB began their own VR Home Run Derby to get fans closer to the game and has since created its own VR viewing technology with Intel True VR. Meanwhile, the NFL has taken to training its athletes with VR programs.
Unlike either league, the NBA is renowned for capitalizing on fringe ventures, from video games like NBA 2K20 to investing in eSports teams, but the league’s partnership with NextVR hasn’t been an entirely smooth journey.
Since its kickoff in 2017, there have been a few bugs that League Pass has struggled to fix—and a few other pressing concerns from users. So the question is what’s it like watching an NBA playoff game in virtual reality? We give you a NBA League Pass VR review in full detail below.
Is NBA League Pass VR worth it?
Let’s look into the different factors to determine if watching NBA league pass is worth it.
- Set up and VR headset
- VR Pixelization
- Video Quality
- VR Audio
- Camera Angles while watching NBA in VR
- VR Atmostphere
Set up and VR Headset for NBA League Pass
As part of getting set up, you will need a headset which will allow you to get a 3D image of the players and the entire NBA game. The VR headset gives you a different experience and if you’re not used to it, it can cause annoyance at the beginning. However once you get used to it, you can see the players right next to you as they run past.
Below are some headset options to get you set up with NBA League pass VR
NBA VR Pixelization
The first and most pressing issue that NBA League Pass VR faced was its pixelization issues. In fact, this is still an issue for many users.
Pixelization isn’t exactly a bug as much as it is a lack of experience from producers that make the VR experience seem jarring and illusory. As VR develops, issues regarding clarity will be easier to address.
Video Lag of NBA League Pass VR
NBA League Pass VR showcases live games from a variety of viewpoints, including the revered courtside angle. However, at its core, it’s just another broadcasting service, and for this reason, video lag is a serious bug.
Fans will barrage service providers because of streaming difficulties, and the NBA’s VR venture is no different. Watching a game live means users expect to see every angle of the action.
Video lag could mean watching a historic play on replay. It can also transform the game into an unwatchable series of blurry still frames.
Video lag also affects the audio which means it entirely cuts users off from the game until the lag ended. Another first comment from fans critiques overly produced sounds like the crowd cheering, sneakers squeaking on the wood floors, and even the bounce of the ball.
Though these are sounds normally associated with a basketball game, users couldn’t tell if they were simulated or real.
Camera Angles while watching NBA in VR
NextVR produces the live action of a game much like a broadcasting network. This means that camera angles shift between three views around the court—but they’re not of the same quality. Occasionally, you may experience blind spots when shifting and changing camera angles on the NBA VR views
Much like pixelization, issues with camera angles aren’t bugs as much as production choices. NextVR works with broadcasting network TNT to make the games come to life in VR, but many users have reported that camera angles switch quickly, which makes the experience unintuitive. Check out the video of NBA in VR below.
NBA in VR Video
The Atmospheric Bug
One final critique made by users has nothing to do with the tech behind League Pass VR. It’s a commentary on the tech itself.
The major issue presented by fans is the lack of social interaction while watching a game with a headset on. Not only is it a hassle to continue to take off the headset every time you want to check your phone, but it’s also impossible to interact with other viewers.
NBA League Pass VR Summary
The answer is it depends. Wearing a headset for an entire game while seated on courtside would seem silly, but the NBA in VR quickly delivered angles that would be useful and entertaining to commentators and fans alike.
VR for a full time may be a bit much, so it might be best to have it as a complement rather than a full replacement. That way, you can switch back and forth between the headset and the normal TV. Either way, there have been reviews of it being a great experience for some. Please keep in mind that you also have to purchase a VR headset when streaming with NBA League Pass in VR.