Fox Sports, NextVR to Demo Live Virtual Reality Experience for U.S. Open

U.S. Open Golf

More than doubling the $40 million a year NBC and ESPN had been footing, Fox Sports 1 outbid the two networks for a 12-year deal -- starting in 2015 -- costing a reported $100 million per year.

Virtual reality has a prominent place at this week’s E3 gaming confab, but while games are widely considered a killer app for the immersive platform, others are exploring the potential of live events.

To that end, NextVR — a startup that's developing technology to enable live VR experiences — and Fox Sports are planning to demonstrate live streaming of VR during the U.S. Open.

At the tournament's VIP tents, approximately 100-300 visitors daily will have the opportunity to view the live stream of what Fox Sports believes might be the first live VR experience with multi-camera coverage. Five spherical camera rigs will be placed at vantage points around the course in order to allow fans to visit these sites in real time.

NextVR will also live stream the U.S. Open VR experience to Fox Sports locations in New York, Los Angeles and Vancouver. U.S. Open highlights will also be included on the NextVR portal, which will be available to users of virtual reality headsets, including Oculus Rift and Samsung Gear VR.

The company has already tested its live VR delivery system with the NBA, NHL and MLB, and partnered with Fox Sports earlier this year to broadcast the Nascar Sprint Cup Series.

“Our ongoing efforts with NextVR are exactly the kind of relationships we are exploring with our new Fox Lab platform,” said John Entz, president of production at Fox Sports, in a statement. “Virtual reality is most certainly delivering a new level of excitement to next-generation production possibilities, and it will be great to gauge the reactions of the audiences who get to sample it at the U.S. Open."

Last month, Mandalay Entertainment founder and CEO Peter Guber was named as head of NextVR's advisory board, and the exec also made a capital investment in the company. The Mandalay founder also co-owns the Golden State Warriors of the NBA, the Los Angeles Dodgers of MLB and the Los Angeles Football Club of Major League Soccer. And he is owner and chairman of Dick Clark Productions.