Apple buys virtual-reality streaming upstart NextVR

The company broadcasts live and recorded events, such as sports games and music concerts, for virtual-reality headsets

Apple Inc. has acquired virtual-reality streaming company NextVR Inc., a signal of the tech giant’s continued ambitions in virtual- and augmented-reality technologies.

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Apple confirmed the deal Thursday but didn’t disclose the terms of the transaction. In a statement, a company spokesman said, “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”

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NextVR said on its website that it is “heading in a new direction.”

The Newport Beach, Calif.,-based company broadcasts live and recorded events, such as sports games and music concerts, for virtual-reality headsets. It has a long list of high-profile partnerships that include the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League, World Wrestling Entertainment, Fox Sports, and Live Nation.

Apple has been looking at VR and AR technology for years and is said to have built headset prototypes. The tech giant has acquired a number of smaller technology firms in the space, including Flyby Media about four years ago.

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Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook has shown great interest in the technology. “It’s really cool and has some interesting applications,” he said in a conference call with analysts in 2016.

Virtual reality technology allows users to be totally immersed in an experience through the use of headsets and headphones. With augmented reality, users can see holograph elements overlaid on what they see in the real world.

NextVR has also worked with content makers to produce its own live and recorded VR content on its platform as well as on other existing VR headsets from Sony Corp. ’s PlayStation, Facebook Inc.’s Oculus, HTC Corp. ’s Vive and Vive Pro, and more.

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Over the past two months, Apple has engaged in a number of deals, scooping up the weather app Dark Sky and the Dublin-based artificial-intelligence voice startup Voysis.

Write to Kimberly Chin at kimberly.chin@wsj.com