When you first watch a movie on a VR Big Screen, your first thought will likely be, “Holy cow, I wonder if I can watch basketball like this?”
And the answer is Yes! It’s possible to watch NBA games in VR; however, it’s not necessarily easy. Here are the ways I’ve found to make it work.
Horizon Venues App (Formerly Oculus Venues)
You can watch select NBA League pass games in the Horizon Venues app (formerly the Oculus Venues app). I list this option first because it offers a very cool 180° view of live games that you won’t find elsewhere (it’s worth experiencing).
That said, the app definitely sucks. And they have a very limited selection of games you can watch. And by limited, I mean that they only show about a game a week according to the Horizon Venues event schedule.
If you want to get a quick idea for what the NBA looks like in 360°, I recommend putting on your VR headset and checking out the following YouTube video. Note that it will be much more impressive if you watch in a VR headset!
Try The DeoVR, Oculus, or Firefox VR Web Browser (NBA League Pass)
As far as I know NBA league pass doesn’t offer any 360° content.
However, a VR web browser can display NBA on a gigantic virtual television. DeoVR is the best VR web browser for watching videos, so I’d start with that browser. If for some reason NBA league pass starts blocking access to these browsers, there is another solution.
Remote Desktop Into Your PC / Mac
The process for watching NBA games is effectively the same. Any game you can pull up on your computer via a web browser becomes accessible in virtual reality (on as big a screen as you like). Heck, an app like Immersed even lets you invite friends to hang out in your private room.
Here’s what that was like when I watched an NFL game in a virtual man cave.
So the real question becomes, “how do you get access to NBA games on your computer.” Here are a handful of options that will actually work (though they aren’t free).
- NBA League Pass
- YouTube TV (although you can only see local games).
- Sling TV (You’re also limited to local games).
It’s not your own personal private sports bar just yet, but we’re certainly getting there.
Techniques That Won’t Work
The following are things that I’ve tried to watch the NBA in VR and failed.
- The ESPN+ Oculus app: ESPN doesn’t currently have rights to stream NBA games so you won’t find live games on their apps.
- Yahoo Sports App: I haven’t attempted to sideload the Android version of these apps onto the Quest 2 (although that would only let you watch one game at a time). That said, I have tried to load iPhone and iPad apps onto my M1 Mac and live sports are blocked on non-mobile devices.
Conclusion: Is Watching Basketball on The Quest 2 Worth It?
For me, the resolution on the Quest 2 isn’t high enough for me to prefer watching a game in VR over a traditional television just yet. That said, higher resolution VR headsets are dropping in 2022, which promises to fix that problem.
So we’re not quite there yet. That said, a 180° game is likely worth checking out. And in a few years, VR will likely be the optimal way to watch the game.