Here's how to watch the Tokyo Olympics in VR
The 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics are shaping up to be one of the most unusual in Olympic history for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that public spectators will not be allowed at any of the events (yeah, and the fact that the 2020 Olympics are happening in 2021).
And even though this won't be the first time that Olympics content will be available in VR, it is a particularly relevant way to experience the 17 days of international matchups this year -- if you still have a standard cable subscription.
The Olympics begin today and as it has since 1988, NBC will be the exclusive network -- along with all its sister networks and digital platforms -- to air the games in the US. One of those digital platforms went up on the Oculus Quest Store earlier this month. Available for the Quest and Quest 2, "NBC Olympics VR by Xfinity" will offer hundreds of hours of live and recorded content, according to the app's description.
That is, if you have a qualifying cable or satellite TV subscription. The app requires users to authenticate with their pay-TV provider: the standard (but slowly becoming less common) mechanism that many legacy networks and content providers have implemented over the years to ease the slow burn of customers cutting the cord. According to UploadVR, the specific authentication that occurs is confirming that users have USA Network as part of their cable or satellite package.
In the last Summer Olympics, the coverage on USA Network -- a basic cable property owned by NBCUniversal -- was primarily team sports like basketball, volleyball, and water polo. For the NBC Olympics VR by Xfinity app, the focus will be on "select sports including Basketball, Beach Volleyball, Boxing, Track & Field and Gymnastics."
The description goes on to explain that "additional VR features" will be available across more than 20 other sports: "Artistic Swimming, Sailing, Cycling (Track, Mountain Bike, BMX Freestyle, BMX Racing), Golf, Equestrian (Jumping), Rowing, Diving, Canoe/Kayak (Slalom & Sprint), Skateboarding (Park and Street), Softball, Baseball, Sport-s-Climbing, Surfing, Table Tennis, Triathlon and Shooting (Trap)." It's unclear exactly what "additional VR features" means.
The app takes things a little further than previous Olympics VR content with the addition of "Watch Parties," which allow up to four people to connect online and watch together.
The first major event occurred this morning, with a live 360-degree broadcast of the opening ceremony. That is now available for replay, and by the time the Olympics are over, hundreds of hours of VR video should be available.