The future of VR in Media & Entertainment

Apr 6, 2017 - min read min read

Just recently, we spent some time in Hollywood, the entertainment & media capital of the world, and it was clear to see that VR is ready to stake its claim to fame. Big names like Michael Bay and Steven Spielberg have already begun to tap into the vast potential that VR has to offer. But that is not all: the way we see it right here in Tinsel Town, VR’s small screen takeover isn’t far behind. Whether small or large, at home or in theaters, VR is booming and it’s time for executives to wake up and smell the opportunities.

Movie theaters are creating interactive experiences

VR is threading that narrow line between a game, a movie, an experience and interaction. It’s an entirely new medium, but it definitely belongs in the theater, among other places. Smart movie theater execs are realizing that people want VR, and that they want more than a solitary VR experience. Cue some brave VR pioneers. As an experiment, IMAX opened its first VR center in Beverly Hills in January, which allowed them to gather some valuable first insights in VR’s appeal: What are people willing to pay for? How long do they want to be at a VR center? And what draws them there in the first place? The results: interactivity is very important and interactive experiences are the way to go.

Right now, most big studios are still afraid to experiment with VR and won’t go beyond a simple VR trailer for their blockbusters. But if it were up to IMAX, movie theaters would offer regular movie tickets, as well as more expensive tickets for interactive VR experiences. All they need to pave the way is consistent, high-quality VR content. To be continued, there’s no doubt about it.

TV channels need to create recurring content for VR

This quest for content is also keeping TV executives awake when it comes to VR on the small screen. Why? Easy. Episodic VR content is not just the key to bringing VR into people’s homes, it would also keep them coming back for more. Incidentally, that is precisely how to turn VR into a sustainable business. It will pave the way to new monetization methods for the TV industry that will blow traditional advertising right out of the water.

The most digital-minded channels are already catching on. Think of Hulu, who just added Live Nation concerts to their VR lineup, which already includes a news program and comedy shows. And Netflix, who obviously can’t stay far behind. Right now, its VR solutions are rather gimmicky, with appropriate background settings for the shows you are watching, but judging from Netflix’ penchant for progression, substantial original content won’t be far behind.

At the same time, cutting-edge startups, like the Disney-backed Littlstar, have started creating apps that allow owners of smart tvs to consume content from media giants such as Showtime, the Discovery Channel, National Geographic, and ABC Television Group. This is good news for other players, as it means that pioneers are overcoming the hurdles of bringing VR to the tv screen. The added complexity and required quality have been mastered, and the road to VR adoption has been blown wide open.

By 2025, AR/VR will be a 100 billion dollar business, so everyone in the entertainment & media industry should be scrambling to their feet right about now.