Virtual Reality is the future technology that we have all been waiting for and it's finally here in a big way! From the Samsung Gear VR that was introduced late last year to the many Virtual Reality tech companies making waves in different markets such as sports and gaming. Thankfully, the use of VR technologies is now being noticed up by cable companies who wish to implement the advanced technology into an everyday viewing option.
On May 18, 2016 Comcast Ventures offered a $3 million initial offer to take stake in and financially back Spaces, a virtual reality company led by Shiraz Akmal who is a veteran of the film and gaming industries. Akmal has experience with THQ and Dreamworks, a couple companies that are very much involved in innovation in their respective fields. Spaces is already working with several VR projects including Samsung Gear VR and PlayStation VR - two of the largest projects in the virtual reality field currently. Joining him from Dreamworks and additionally Walt Disney Imagineering is Dean Orion. With this team of visual geniuses, it was easy for Comcast to commit to a long-term relationship with the company that could prove vital to Comcast's future. "Spaces is combining remarkable capabilities, tools and creativity to push the boundaries of the VR frontier," said Director of Comcast Ventures, Michael Yang.
The best part is that Comcast didn''t stop there in their funding efforts. They are also funding NextVR (with Time Warner Inc.) which has recently been granted the rights to live stream the 2016 Kentucky Derby on their website for those interested in experiencing the event up close and personal. Last May, the event had 16 million viewers worldwide and with the addition of this technology, there may be a serious uptick in viewership.
But does all of this really mean we are close? Not quite. While these companies are funding the VR technology, it doesn't mean the companies are close to making this feature live. As Diffusion Group Senior Analyst, Joel Espelien, explained, "Pay-TV companies don't yet have a direct play in virtual reality, but they could play a significant role in monetization if they extend authenticated TV Everywhere services to VR experiences as an additional screen. This could be a good additional way to retain potential cord-cutters with things like VR experiences around sports and the premium content." Basically, we are far from the monetization stage, but there is a future in sight.
Within the next decade, there is no doubt among the leaders in technology that VR will be as basic to television plans as HD is currently. There are so many possibilities when it comes to virtual reality technology and I'm sure cable companies such as Comcast and Time Warner are happy they are on the right side of innovation for once. If this technology takes off to the point many believe it will, this could be a huge step in the right direction to draw "cord cutters" back into their cable TV plans.