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Saturday, March 2, 2024

NBA and NHL Games Will Feature Sphere-Type Broadcasts

  • NBA, NHL, U.S. national team soccer games to be shown in immersive venues
  • New deal involving TNT Sports focuses on "shared reality"

The influence of Las Vegas’ new $2.3 billion Sphere venue continues to pervade the business of sports.

Warner Bros. Discovery’s TNT Sports has completed a multiyear deal with California-based Cosm to create similarly immersive game broadcasts in what the experiential media company calls “shared reality.”

Select NBA and NHL games and U.S. national soccer team matches shown on TNT will also be aired live at immersive dome venues developed by Cosm. The first two locations — one in Los Angeles and another in Dallas — will open in 2024, each accommodating about 2,000 people between seats and standing areas, with more sites in development.

Featuring wraparound, 8K LED screens, the forthcoming Cosm locations are similar in approach to the Sphere, the next-generation venue led by New York Rangers and Knicks owner James Dolan that has quickly set the industry abuzz during an ongoing run of concerts by rock superstars U2. 

The Cosm-TNT Sports deal, however, is focused specifically on live sports, unlike the initial approach for the Sphere, with NBA and NHL playoff games forming a key part of the initial rollout.

Numerous other sports properties such as UFC, WWE, and several boxing promotions have either looked into using the Sphere itself or sought to incorporate similarly immersive elements into their events.

Advancing Technology

The TNT Sports-Cosm deal also looks to introduce immersive elements of virtual reality — which despite years of attempts by entities including the NBA and Meta has never fully reached mass popularity in sports — but without the isolation inherent to wearing a VR device. 

To that end, the experience at the TNT Sports-Cosm broadcasts is designed to create a feeling of actually being at the game location, but without any required headsets or glasses.

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