Ahead of the Vision Pro’s big reveal, it was rumored that live sports would be one of the major selling points Apple intended to push.
Yet when it finally debuted, sports were curiously absent from Apple’s main talk, even though a virtual courtside basketball experience was shown to some journalists, and Disney showed how a game could be broadcast onto a coffee table.
Last month, The Information suggested this might be down to “the current state of internet speeds and the amount of data” required, putting a “seamless” experience beyond the reach of most buyers.
But it seems that Apple hasn’t given up on this dream. According to an exclusive report from The New York Post, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver “said the league is working with Apple to bring a tech-enhanced viewing experience” to its upcoming headset.
When asked about it, he told the outlet: “We’re working very closely with Apple.”
That’s light on specifics, obviously, but the idea that Apple would be interested is not altogether surprising for a number of reasons.
Not only did Apple demo a courtside experience as mentioned above, but the NBA already has a VR infrastructure in place, allowing Meta Quest owners to watch matches live in virtual reality via the Horizon Worlds app.
And Apple clearly has a growing interest in sports, too. Apple TV Plus subscribers can already stream Friday Night Baseball and Major League Soccer, and there’s always talk of the company looking for more opportunities to expand its sports offering. Just this week, it was reported that Apple is in talks with Germany’s Bundesliga to bring top-flight European soccer to Apple TV Plus too.
The NBA’s current deal with Warner Bros. and Disney ends in April 2024, and according to CNBC, the NBA is likely to “carve out one or two new packages for bidders, pushing their media rights partner from two to either three or four.”
Apple isn’t the only interested party, according to Silver. “Just in a general way, I’ve been having lots of conversations with media companies and tech companies,” he told The Post.
“I think they’re looking at ways that they can find new opportunities to distribute these sports rights in broader ways than they’ve previously and in unique and different ways, particularly around the personalization and customization that can come with a lot of the advanced technology.”
With Apple keen to show off the game-changing nature of its headset, such a partnership would certainly make sense. The more use cases Apple can present for the $3,500 headset, the more plausible augmented reality’s future as a long-term iPhone replacement seems.