The normalization of VR and immersive video continues. Samsung announced that it has partnered with the UFC, X Games, and Live Nation on VR Live Pass, a service that will allow Gear VR owners to watch live-streamed 360-degree videos from those providers via the Samsung VR app.
VR Live Pass is set to debut in early June. When it does, the service will offer access to exclusive videos related to the UFC 212: Aldo vs. Holloway fight happening in Rio on June 3. X Games will follow on July 13 with live-streams of "the world’s best BMX riders and skaters" from the X Games Minneapolis event. Finally, in August, the service will offer access to "one of the most exciting, high-energy and renowned music acts with Live Nation." (Samsung didn't offer more details, but Live Nation currently lists August tours for Coldplay and Guns N' Roses, so it could be one of them.)
"Gear VR users will be given an unrivaled ‘live pass’ to shows, where they will witness live action shots and extreme close-ups, taking spectatorship to an entirely new level," Samsung said in its announcement. "Gear VR users will be able to access this content at no cost."
This is the latest example of tech companies and media organizations partnering up to make VR and immersive video a little more mainstream. Other examples include CNN's push into VR, Warner Bros.' partnership with HTC for "Ready Player One" companion experiences, Google's support for WebVR on desktop browsers and low-end headsets like Cardboard, and the nigh ubiquity of 360-degree video support on streaming platforms. Whether or not you believe XR is the future of computing, it's clear that the category has expanded beyond its niche gaming roots.
VR Live Pass helps drive that point even further. It could also be a stepping stone between experiencing 360-degree videos on a smartphone and enjoying them in XR. It's a simple tool--Samsung's instructions are to pick up your Gear VR, download the Samsung VR app from the Oculus Store, and use VR Live Pass. Combine that with the simple setup process for the Gear VR itself and it seems like an easy way for people to see what all this VR hype is about. You'll be able to see for yourself if Samsung accomplished this goal when VR Live Pass goes, um, live in a few days.