On Thursday night the NBA will post 360-degree videos to its Twitter account through a sponsorship deal with Samsung struck through Twitter’s Amplify video ad program. The videos will be shot before and after Game 1 of the NBA Finals using a Samsung Gear 360 camera so that people can get an all-around look during the pregame shootaround and postgame activity.
The campaign marks the first Amplify deal that incorporates 360-degree video as well as the first time premium-quality 360-degree video content has been distributed on Twitter, a Twitter spokesperson confirmed.
Samsung’s 360-degree video campaign with the NBA doesn’t mark the start of Twitter officially supporting 360-degree video on its service. It’s more like a test. That likely explains why people won’t actually be able to watch the campaign’s videos within Twitter, like they would on YouTube or Facebook. Instead they’ll need to click on the video card, which will take them to landing page — like this one — from which they can play the video. But it’d be surprising if Twitter doesn’t end up officially supporting the virtual reality-lite format.
Twitter has been trying to beef up digital video bonafides over the past couple years. It has started letting people watch videos natively within Twitter’s site and app versus clicking to someone else’s site. It has introduced autoplay video ads. It has opened up a revenue-sharing program for some video creators to make money from the videos they post to Twitter. And it’s struck big content deals like its upcoming livestreams of the NFL’s Thursday Night Football games.
360-degree video support is becoming table stakes for large digital video services, like the one Twitter is trying to build. YouTube and Facebook already officially support 360-degree videos and video ads. Hulu has launched an app for Samsung’s Gear VR headset that lets people watch 360-degree videos. And even Netflix is taking a hard look at the format.