How Samsung, NBC and More Are Bringing the Olympics to Life in Virtual Reality

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While virtual reality is still fairly new in terms of overall adoption—with just a few million people buying headsets in 2017—several companies in both the hardware and content sectors have made 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, a platform to show how the technology is evolving.

Leading up to the opening ceremony, Jaunt VR teamed up with Olympic Channel—the broadcasting platform for the International Olympic Committee—to follow seven teams of athletes around the world as they trained for events such as snowboarding and bobsledding.

The series, “Trending Gold,” features a film about the Nigerian women’s bobsled team, which producers chose to feature before knowing whether it would become the first African country to qualify for the games in the bobsled event.

“It was really a no-brainer for us because one of the things we’re trying to do as a media company is do things and present the Olympics in a different capacity,” said Mark Parkman, general manager of Olympic Channel. “If you look at some of our original content, we’ve tackled some issues that are controversial. We’ve gone behind the scenes in ways others haven’t before, and we’re wanting to distribute our content across as many platforms and new technologies as possible.”

While this is the first time Olympic Channel has created VR films, it’s not the first time the Olympics has been showcased in VR. For the 2016 Summer Olympics, Olympic Broadcasting Services partnered with Intel to put 360-degree cameras at certain venues, which the Olympic Channel then uploaded to its own platform. This year, Intel is partnering with OBS and NBC to bring VR content to the NBC Sports VR app.
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