The BBC has announced that it will be offering virtual reality coverage for this year’s Rio 2016 Olympics via its BBC Sport 360 app, designed to stream video content in 360-degrees for a fully immersive experience. Here’s how to get BBC Sport 360 and watch the Olympics in VR if you live in the UK, plus our full Rio VR events guide with UK dates and times.
Just last month we revealed that the 2016 Olympics in Rio would be filmed using 360-degree VR cameras, so viewers at home can strap on a virtual reality headset and enjoy Olympics events in VR. However, it looked like UK residents would annoyingly miss out – until now. For the Beeb has just revealed its new BBC Sport 360 app, which will offer a VR view of much of the 2016 Olympics action (including, of course, beach volleyball).
But how does the BBC Sport 360 app work, how do you download it, and what can you watch on it? The BBC first trailed 360 videos at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, but this is the first time anything of this scale in VR has been attempted by the Beeb.
Our handy guide will give you everything you need to know to enjoy this year’s Rio Olympic games in 360-degree VR.
BBC Sport 360: What does it do?
At its simplest, the BBC Sport 360 is a media player like iPlayer, which will offer a unique 360-degree view of the Olympic games. This footage will be broadcast live and can be viewed by anyone with compatible phones and hardware (see below).
The BBC Sport 360 feed works thanks to multiple cameras, which capture the action from a perspective which takes the viewer right into the moment. That means that with the right equipment, anyone can look about in their home and feel like they’re standing right there at the Olympics as they happen – minus the expensive flights and other sweaty patrons.
BBC Sport 360: What’s being shown?
The BBC has said it will be airing a live 360-degree video feed for events on every day of the Olympics. That means a total of 100 hours of coverage, although it’s not all from one place.
While this isn’t totally immersive virtual reality where you actually can walk about, you will be able to move your head to see all around you. There will also be up to four different 360-degree viewpoints available at each event, which you can swap between at any time.
The BBC’s Sport 360 Olympics coverage includes the opening and closing ceremonies, athletics and a “closer-than-ringside” boxing view among others. Check our VR event guide below for the full listing of everything being shown on BBC 360, complete with dates and times.
BBC Sport 360: How can I watch the Rio Olympic games with it?
The 360-degree Olympics footage broadcast via BBC Sport 360 will require specific hardware to be fully appreciated. Although the VR events can be viewed on a PC via a browser and the BBC Taster website, this requires click and drag movement of the perspective so it’s nowhere near as immersive as a proper VR headset. Thankfully the kit needed for the full experience is probably already owned by most people, and if not, an upgrade is affordable.
BBC Sport 360 will be available as a free app for iPhones and Android handsets and will also work with Samsung Gear VR. So if you have a Google Cardboard unit, sold for around £15, you should be able to enjoy all the immersive action using your smartphone.
Check out our how to get started with VR guide for more info.
BBC Sport 360: Event guide
Here is a full list of all of the 2016 Rio Olympic events being shown in VR on the BBC Sport 360 app, complete with dates and UK times of broadcast.
• Friday, August 5, 0000-0330 – Opening Ceremony
• Saturday, August 6, 1400-1750, 1930-2020, 0100-0450 – Beach Volleyball
• Sunday, August 7, 1400-1750, 1930-2020, 0100-0450 – Beach Volleyball
• Monday, August 8, 1500-1800, 2100-0000 – Boxing
• Tuesday, August 9, 1500-1800, 2100-0000 – Boxing
• Wednesday, August 10, 2000-2245 – Artistic Gymnastics
• Thursday, August 11, 2000-2210 – Artistic Gymnastics
• Friday, August 12, 1300-1930, 2100-2350 – Fencing
• Saturday, August 13, 1330-1650 & 0000-0315 – Athletics
• Sunday, August 14, 0020-0230 – Athletics
• Monday, August 15, 1330-1610 & 0015-0250 – Athletics
• Tuesday, August 16, 1330-1640 & 0015-0250 – Athletics
• Wednesday, August 17, 0200-0505 – Beach Volleyball
• Thursday, August 18, 0200-0505 – Beach Volleyball
• Friday, August 19, 1930-2130 – Basketball (Men’s SFs)
• Saturday, August 20, 1500-1650 & 1930-2200 – Diving
• Sunday, August 21, 1530-1730 & 1945-2205 – Basketball (Men’s Finals)
• Monday, August 22, 0000-0330 – Closing Ceremony