How do you unwind after a long day? According to research by Ofcom, adults in the UK spend four hours a day watching TV. With so many entertainment packages and box sets, TV is bigger than ever before, but consumed in a different way; mainly bingeing on box sets. You can now access channels from all over the world, in hundreds of languages, any time on any device. This revolution has transformed the entertainment industry forever. What will be the next step? VR for TV.
VR is always hitting the headlines for one reason or another, with many people fascinated by its capabilities. The concept of putting on a headset and seeing an entirely different world is being utilised by many industries, from Education to Medicine, and everything in between. The entertainment industry has been utilising VR since its conception. Now however, VR is set to revolutionise TV.
So, how does VR TV differ from regular TV? The concept is currently being tested by Netflix, who has developed their version. You put on the headset, and are transported into a cosy cottage. Facing you is a large screen, where you can watch all the shows Netflix has selected. This means you can be sat on a train in the middle of a busy commute – and instantly be ‘teleported’ to a relaxed location where you can enjoy your favourite shows. This will make people more relaxed, and able to better use that often-dreaded commute time. It has to be said that this doesn’t seem to be that revolutionary, but is paving the way forward to immersing people more in a virtual world.
Sky has also launched their take on VR for TV; Sky VR studios. Forerunners of TV tech, Sky built their own studio to create VR videos, allowing viewers to watch in 360 degree rotation. Currently, the number of programmes available to watch on the app are limited, however, you can watch an exhibition with David Beckham that highlights the importance of VR for sport and excerpts of The Jungle Book and Star Wars: Red Carpet. Sky VR Studios is a collaboration with Google, and for the moment is just a showcase of the type of videos they hope to produce in the future.
VR can also revolutionise TV by making it interactive. This starts with being able to pause and rewind videos using movements while wearing the headset. No more looking for the remote when you want to go back because you missed a part, or turn the sound up in a quiet part. VR will make it possible to interact with TV using movement. In the future, VR may also develop so that viewers can be involved with the on-screen content. In France, popular show Last Mission Before Departure encapsulates the VR experience. A spin off of Le Bureau des Légendes, the show allows viewers to experience every movement of the protagonist – and has 360-degree filming so you can look in all directions. “It’s been shot in the first-person point of view, so you can relate to the character,” said Denoel, the show’s producer. “We wanted to give a feeling of immersion, of being on the actual set of the series, with the actual actors.” Denoel went on to highlight the importance of VR for TV, stating that he believes “there will be more and more virtual content that allows you to step inside your favourite TV series. If you’re a fan of Breaking Bad imagine being in Walter White’s van, or imagine being in The Big Bang Theory sitting next to Sheldon Cooper”.
Anyone who pays the TV bill will know that most sports channels come at a hefty cost, a price sporting fans are willing to pay. The development of filming and HD TV has enabled fans to get as close to actually being at the game as possible… or so they thought. With VR TV and the 360 degree coverage the audience will be able to view the game as if they’re right there in the stands. For avid sports fans, this seems like an ideal solution for the games they just can’t afford to miss and for the sports industry this could rejuvenate and grow their fan base. VR could be the biggest development for sports TV since goal-line technology was invented.
Additionally, VR will help to make TV a more immersive experience. Watching TV at home is often full of distractions; multi-tasking on your phone or computer. The all-encompassing nature of VR TV allows you to focus solely on the entertainment, without getting side-tracked with other aspects of life. Once VR becomes
more commonly used, directors and writers will design programmes with the knowledge that their viewers will be watching wearing the VR headset. They can then create content that is specifically for the VR audience – thus changing the way we get entertained.
VR TV isn’t far from being a reality – so keep your eyes out for it. The revolution will be here sooner than you think.