Virtual Reality Creates New Broadcast Opportunities
Virtual reality is gaining momentum. While some years ago, the technology still seemed futuristic and inaccessible to consumers, VR has come a long way and is starting to enter our living rooms. Thanks to a range of new and upcoming headsets, the technology is officially a trend, and no longer reserved for technology freaks and experts.

At the end of January, Google for the first time revealed some numbers around the adoption rate of its Cardboard, the low-cost DIY headset that turns nearly any phone into a VR viewer: since its introduction in 2014, 5 million of these devices have been shipped and users downloaded more than 25 million Google Cardboard apps from the company’s Play Store. Ten million of these downloads occurred between October and December 2015 alone, according to Google’s company blog, indicating a clearly growing interest in VR.

In the same timeframe, Samsung in November launched its $99 Gear VR powered by Oculus. The headset sold out on Amazon and Best Buy less than 24 hours after its release. 2016 promises to become a huge year for VR with both Oculus VR and HTC releasing the consumer editions of the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive Pre. The Oculus Rift, which costs $599, might have dampened the VR euphoria for some users as it is not exactly priced for the mainstream, but nevertheless the dawn of consumer VR is here and people are hungry for more.

For VR to really become a consumer product, however, the content ecosystem is key. We now have the devices (and their prices are expected to decline over the next months, as they usually do with new hardware), but there is still a lack of compelling content to make a broader consumer base want to purchase the more advanced headsets.

Gaming is discussed as the key driver for VR’s rise and the first industry to adopt the technology, but other industries engage in building VR experiences as well. Both Samsung and Oculus, for example, jumped into VR content production themselves and launched their own VR movie studios. But the TV might actually be the medium that will eventually let virtual reality break into the mainstream.

Numerous companies specializing in the production of VR content have emerged in the last couple of months. Startups and more established companies such as NextVR, Jaunt, Ovrture, IM360 and many more received millions of dollars of funding from media companies including Comcast, Time Warner, The Walt Disney Company and Sky. They assist broadcasters in developing new experiences for viewers that give a glimpse of what the future of television might look like.

At Vast Media, we are constantly on the lookout to provide our clients with case studies of unique and creative new projects in digital television and storytelling. In the last couple of months, we observed that the number of TV broadcasters and producers entering the bold new realm of virtual reality is beginning to spike. There are several ways in which VR could reshape television and the way we watch and interact with its content, as some early adopters in TV and their VR projects illustrate. (…)

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with sections such as “A 360-degree view of the world”, “News in VR gives the whole picture” and “Step into your favorite TV shows”

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