Jonathon Yardley ’05 Speaks into the Future of Sports Broadcasting with NextVR

Jonathon Yardley ’05 Speaks into the Future of Sports Broadcasting with NextVR

The 2016-17 NBA regular season witnessed the first fully produced virtual reality broadcasts in professional sports, and Rice University graduate Jonathon Yardley ’05 was court side doing the play-by-play. The broadcasts, produced by Newport Beach based NextVR, are available via NBA League Pass through Google’s Daydream and Samsung’s Gear platforms.

“Broadcasting in virtual reality presents some unique opportunities,” Yardley says. “The ability to direct the spectator’s view to specific areas of the court is something that traditional formats don’t offer.”

NextVR’s technology offers a 180º viewing angle, making the entire court visible at any given time. From his court side position, Yardley watches the action on a monitor which contains the entire viewing spectrum of the spectators at home.

“Telling a fan to ‘look to your left or right’ would never happen in a normal broadcast,” Yardley says. “This is just one example of the adjustments I’ve had to make when using virtual reality.”

Jonathon Yardley '05

Yardley’s path to the future has been a winding one. Since graduating from Rice in 2005, his broadcasting career has taken him from coast to coast, doing games ranging from independent league baseball to Major League Soccer, and being the lead play-by-play man for several ESPN college football broadcasts.

He feels his time at Rice prepared him for the life he now enjoys.

“Aside from marrying my wife - also a Rice grad, going to Rice was the best decision I ever made,” Yardley says. “I gained hands on experience calling Rice games and writing for the Thresher. Rice’s size offered opportunities and connections that set me up well for my career.”

Follow Jonathon on twitter @jtyardley.

Philip Humber, a senior from Carthage, Texas, is majoring in Sport Management.