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Major League Baseball is about to play ball -- in virtual reality.

MLB is teaming with Intel to deliver a live-streaming game of the week in VR, starting Tuesday when the Colorado Rockies host the Cleveland Indians. Weekly games will be blacked out in the participating teams' local markets, the same way MLB handles out-of-market streams on MLB TV and on Twitter. The non-exclusive Intel-MLB virtual reality partnership is set for three years. Terms were not disclosed.

You'll need a Samsung Gear VR (and compatible smartphone), and you also must download the Intel True VR app, available free in the Oculus store.

From ABVirtual Reality’s Role in the Future of Sports

Intel plans to use an array of 4K-resolution cameras in the home team stadium, giving fans up to four camera angles per game in real time. So you might get to watch from the perspective of the first- or third-base coaches, or from the dugout. Or in the case of Chase Field, where the Arizona Diamondbacks play, from the outfield swimming pool. Camera pods are automated, so you get to choose the views you want.

"Think of it as a highly personalized experience," says David Aufhauser, head of product at Intel Sports Group.

You'll have the option of watching a fully produced VR broadcast, and stats and highlights will be available. While MLB has dabbled in VR before, the Intel partnership is the first in which full live games will be streamed in VR, something rival leagues such as the NBA already deliver on select games.

For now, there are no plans to bring VR to this year's All-Star game, playoffs or World Series, in part because of rights issues. And since Intel will only place its VR cameras in one ballpark per week, there is no immediate backup in case the VR game on the schedule is rained out.

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June 2, 2017


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