After going on hiatus earlier this year, the NBA 2019-2020 season is back in full swing now. But with no fans in attendance at the matches, watching in Oculus Venues is now the closest experience fans can get to watching a NBA game in-person.
A selection of NBA games have been available to view live in Oculus Venues for several seasons now, however this season has been a bit different. No games have been played since March, due to a season suspension in response to COVID-19. Now, the NBA has resumed play in a closed hub at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida, but things look a bit different than they did before.
Perhaps the biggest change is the lack of a physical audience — with no fans present at any of the matches for safety reasons, it turns out that Oculus Venues might be the best way to watch the matches with a live crowd right now. The experience will let you watch the match in VR in arena-like seating and interact with other users sitting around you. You can jeer and cheer the players with random strangers sitting around you, just like real life.
That being said, the NBA broadcast in Venues is being handled by a different company than it was pre-season suspension. Traditionally, VR broadcasts of NBA games were handled by NextVR, both for their own app and for the select games available in Venues. However, NextVR was acquired by Apple earlier this year, and so the rights to the NBA broadcast in Venues have been taken over by Yahoo Sports and its sister production company RYOT.
Not all games are available in Venues, but there’s almost one match available each day in Venues from now until August 12. You can check out the full schedule of NBA games broadcast in Oculus Venues here.