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Intel, Turner Sports tip NBA virtual reality app at All-Star weekend

Turner Sports Inc. and Intel Corp. will provide basketball fans with comprehensive virtual reality coverage of the action from this year's NBA All-Star weekend as part of the initial executions of a partnership announced in November 2017.

The launch of the NBA on TNT VR app powered by Intel True VR will tip off by providing varied virtual vistas from the "Mtn Dew Kickstart Rising Stars," a matchup of some of the league's top young talent, at 9 p.m. ET on Feb. 16, followed by "All-Star Saturday Night" activities, notably the three-point shooting and dunk contests Feb. 17 at 8 p.m. ET., and the All-Star Game itself on Feb. 18 at 8:20 p.m.

Rights-holder TNT (US) is airing the Friday and Saturday night events linearly and will simulcast the All-Star contest, which for the first time will feature a mix of players from the Eastern and Western Conferences as selected by team captains LeBron James and Steph Curry, with sister network TBS (US).

Four cameras will be in play, giving fans views from courtside or from the stands. The app takes fans inside a VR replication of NBA on TNT's Studio J that will serve as the portal into all the available programming.

Fans can watch game highlights and recaps and, after authenticating with their TV service provider information, gain access to select live NBA on TNT games, plus full-game replays in VR, featuring in-game broadcast stats.

The new NBA on TNT VR app for Samsung Gear VR, powered by Oculus, and Google Daydream headsets is available for free download Feb. 16 via the Oculus and Google Play stores.

The partnership also extends to regular- and postseason games, including this season's Western Conference Finals.

For their inaugural VR presentations, the content will sport the partnership's branding, an imprimatur that will likely be expanded over time. A Turner Sports spokesman said the programmer and Intel wanted to test the VR effort during All-Star Weekend before pursuing sponsorship deals around the enhanced telecasts.

"This is a multiyear JV and over the course we're going to look beyond 30-second VR commercials to unique integrations with the platform," he said.

Under the pact, Intel also became an authorized provider of VR and 360-degree volumetric video with Intel freeD technology for official NBA broadcast partners globally.

This marks a series of VR seconds for Turner Sports, which worked with Next VR on the first-ever live VR views from a major sports league with coverage of the Oct. 27, 2015, game between Golden State and New Orleans.

Next VR is furnishing the NBA with a weekly game of the week in the format that is available under the NBA League Pass VR tag for $49.99 for the entire season.

In 2017, Intel, Turner Sports, CBS Sports and the NCAA reached a multiyear deal, under which they created a NCAA March Madness Live VR app that enabled viewers to see marquee contests from the Division I Men's Basketball Championship, starting with "Sweet Sixteen" games and culminating with the national championship, in the format.

Intel has also connected with MLB on a virtual game of the week package and is currently serving up more than 50 hours of select VR content with NBCUniversal Media LLC from the Pyeongchang Olympics in South Korea.

Turner Sports, meanwhile, has forged a partnership with the NBA and Magic Leap Inc. to create new sports viewing experiences via the latter's augmented reality headset that is scheduled to launch later this year through a newly created app that will bow next season.

"We're always interested in being first-movers and engaging with the latest technology," said the Turner Sports spokesman.

Turner Sports is a division of Time Warner Inc.'s Turner Broadcasting System Inc.