Apple Is Working to Bring Live NBA Games to the Vision Pro

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The next frontier for Apple’s live sports ambitions may expand beyond the big screen of the Apple TV into the fully immersive environment provided by the company’s new mixed-reality headset.

Over the past few years, Apple has been eyeing multiple sports packages, but so far, it’s only managed to strike deals with MLB for Friday Night Baseball games and Major League Soccer for a full MLS Season Pass. It’s reportedly courted the NFL and NBA without much success; however, that could soon change thanks to the Vision Pro.

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According to The New York Post, Apple and the NBA are already in talks about bringing “a tech-enhanced viewing experience” to the Vision Pro.

This revelation came from NBA Commissioner Adam Silver during a chat with the post at the “summer camp for billionaires” attended by numerous movers and shakers in the media and tech industry, including Apple CEO Tim Cook.

The hoops honcho hinted that fast breaks and slam dunks could be part of a reimagined courtside experience on Apple’s hotly anticipated device.The New York Post

Silver told The Post that “We’re working very closely with Apple” when asked about the NBA’s plans for the Vision Pro, although he declined to go into specifics as the event requires that all “behind-the-scenes discussions” stay off the record.

However, he did hint that Apple isn’t the only tech company that’s approached him, noting that he’s “been having lots of conversations” and that “it seems like the interest in premium live sports remains incredibly strong.”

NBA Courtside on Vision Pro

The move isn’t entirely surprising, as Apple hinted at this in several ways when it showcased the Vision Pro at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC).

Apple Vision Pro WWDC 18

During the 45-minute presentation on the Vision Pro, Apple showed an NBA Apple Arcade game being played by someone wearing the headset, and when Disney CEO Bob Iger took some time to describe his ambitions for Apple’s headset, he suggested that “fans would be able to watch an NBA game as if they were sitting courtside.”

Apple went a big step further when showing off the headset to in-person media following the keynote, as Daring Fireball’s John Gruber explains:

Lastly, we saw two sports demos: an at-bat from a baseball game at Fenway Park (Phil Schiller’s hands are all over that one), and a scoring play from a Nuggets-Suns NBA basketball game […] For the NBA game, the perspective was courtside, right behind the basket. But better than the actual courtside perspective, because the perspective was slightly elevated above seating level. Fully immersive, fully three-dimensional, and seemingly perfectly to scale. Kevin Durant looked about 6’10”, right in front of me. John Gruber

In other words, it’s clear that Apple has already laid much of the groundwork for this and has likely been in discussions with the NBA for some time — well before the Vision Pro was unveiled to the rest of the world.

Gruber goes on to explain how the basketball scenes were “shot by Apple using entirely custom camera rigs, and stored in altogether new file formats,” using innovative new techniques, and that it was “as profoundly different from watching regular TV telecasts of sports as TV telecasts are from audio-only radio broadcasts.”

It was incredible. I would genuinely consider buying a Vision Pro if the one and only thing it did was show entire sporting events like this.John Gruber

The demos Gruber saw also included an equally impressive baseball game, with a perspective taken right from the home team’s dugout. This suggests Apple has likely been in similar talks with MLB about expanding baseball games onto the Vision Pro. Although we have yet to hear specifics, Apple already has a relationship with MLB for its Friday Night Baseball games, where it’s actively involved with much of the recording technology, employing state-of-the-art high-speed Phantom cameras, and the high-resolution Megalodon. This puts Apple in the ideal position to start recording those games with the camera equipment needed for a totally immersive Apple Vision Pro experience.

[The information provided in this article has NOT been confirmed by Apple and may be speculation. Provided details may not be factual. Take all rumors, tech or otherwise, with a grain of salt.]

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