Rio in the Round: Samsung Plans 85 Hours of Olympics in VR

STAMFORD, CONN.—NBC Olympics announced today that it will provide virtual reality coverage of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games exclusively to authenticated users of compatible Samsung Galaxy smartphones together with Samsung Gear VR via the NBC Sports app, marking the first time Olympics programming will be available in VR.

The 85 hours of VR programming, which will be captured by Olympic Broadcasting Services and supplied to NBC Olympics, will include the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, men’s basketball—including the semifinals and final—gymnastics, track and field, beach volleyball, diving, boxing, and fencing, as well as highlight packages of those sports.

All VR programming will be presented on delay, from Aug. 6, the day after the Opening Ceremony, through Aug. 22, the day after the Games conclude. Only Samsung Galaxy smartphones compatible with Gear VR will be able to access the VR content section of the NBC Sports app. Samsung customers can view the VR content via TV Everywhere on the NBC Sports app after authenticating through their pay TV provider.

“Olympic fans can be transported to iconic venues such as Maracana Stadium for an unprecedented view of the Opening Ceremony, and Copacabana Beach for an immersive beach volleyball experience in the sport’s ultimate setting,” said Gary Zenkel, president of NBC Olympics.

Marc Mathieu, chief marketing officer at Samsung Electronics America, said, “We are thrilled to work with NBC and OBS on this first-of-its-kind endeavor, connecting fans right to the action in Rio, powered by 360-degree storytelling, virtual reality and our Galaxy phones.”

OBS CEO Yiannis Exarchos said, “Our first test in Lillehammer, together with Samsung, for the Winter Youth Olympic Games was highly successful and we look forward to further exploring this exciting technology with NBC in Rio.”

Samsung said its Galaxy S7, Galaxy S7 edge, Galaxy S6, Galaxy S6 edge, Galaxy S6 edge+ and Galaxy Note5 phones, when paired with the Samsung Gear VR headset, provide an untethered, immersive experience with 360-degree content for a mobile VR experience.

Samsung is the Official Smartphone Partner of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. The Opening Ceremony of the 2016 Rio Olympics is Friday, Aug. 5, on NBC.