Newsletter from 18/05/2018
Olympic Games in Virtual Reality
For the first time, the Olympics were available in virtual reality. The BBC was streaming 100 hours of 360-degree video through a new app. By strapping on VR headsets that can hold a phone (Google Cardboard or the Samsung Gear VR, for example) users were able to watch the games in a completely new way. it was the first time the BBC has broadcast live sport in VR and it says the app is experimental. Sport fans were able to watch everything from beach volleyball to athletics using the app.
In the US, NBC was showing 100 hours of virtual reality and 360 video programming using its new Sports app. Using the Samsung Gear and a Samsung phone users in the US were able to watch VR programming the day after the event took place.
However Olympic Broadcasting Services CEO Yiannis Exarchos might have been overly optimistic when he said, “VR technology carries incredible potential for the sport broadcast industry, offering a truly immersive Olympic Games experience for hundreds of millions of people around the world.” It requires a couple of megs to stream HD content (including 360 like the Rio games) or YouTube/Facebook videos. 4K is four times the resolution of 1080p HD video. Add HDR and you add 2X the content to be streamed. VR produces about 10X that volume of content. The best digital video codecs (code-decode) like H.265 do a good job compressing/decompressing video so it can be streamed smoothly over the internet, but the recommended minimum download speed is still 25mbps for 4K. And that assumes you’re the only one connected to the Internet with your device.
Finally - The Olympic streams weren't VR, but they are paving the way.