Technology is maturing and new technology is being created on a daily basis. Some of it is successful while the other bunch gets thrown in a locker somewhere, for good or on hold, until something which can make use of it is created. Virtual Reality is both here and not here. What is meant by that is that there are plenty of applications which use VR to make you feel like you are immersed in the act of gaming or watching, it is still not mainstream, but rather experimental for most people. It requires specific hardware and software and people often do not bother purchasing and setting up the hardware.
What about immersive media, VR in sports? Is that possible? It technically is, to a point, and some sports have already started turning towards VR as a possible and probable direction of immersive media. The best and most recent example comes from the NBA, who are actively trying to implement VR in a way which will work for everyone and be pleasant to watch.
The NBA is Taking Action
The NBA is doing its best to bring you VR and AR, even, or rather, augmented reality. What that means is that they are actively trying to learn and implement new technology which would make broadcasting much more immersive for the viewers. The sad reality is that plenty of people who love watching the NBA cannot simply watch a game live, due to them being either a state or two away, or an ocean or two away. If you eliminate logistics as an obstacle, you are left with the technology. It is almost there.
The NBA already offers VR streaming of their own matches, weekly. AR is something different, entirely. The problem with AR is that the technology just needs to get better. They were taking pictures of professional players, creating new content for their AR project. VR, on the other hand, is already active and has been in the scopes since 2014. The NBA has its own VR app which users can download and use. The AR experiments are short clips which you can actually watch in 360, meaning rotate the camera while the clip is playing to see everything around you, including the regular cameras.
The Future of VR and AR
Should we expect that VR and AR become mainstream and completely available to everyone soon? No, that is not realistic. The reality of it is that there are far too many obstacles for the user if they want to use current technology. For VR, you need at least a pair of goggles or a headset if you want more advanced features. AR, on the other hand, requires a lot more work behind the scenes, if you want to experience something like it is live. With that out of the way, you can still enjoy the NBA in its current VR form which is nothing to shrug off. The NBA is committed to making VR a standard, but in a way which the fans will enjoy. That is why they started their VR journey while VR was still relatively young. If you learn as the technology is developing, you have the opportunity to be mature with knowledge just as the technology is.
VR and AR are still far from being mainstream, but the NBA is actively trying to make the experience better for the viewers.