The streaming revolution has made irreversible changes to the television landscape. Since Netflix began streaming programming in 2007, on-demand television has changed the lifestyle of the entertainment viewer. There are hundreds of high-quality original series and movies available for streaming patrons of such services as Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu, and each of these services has an impressive catalog of programming from other studios.
Streaming has made a huge impact on television, and now tech and entertainment companies are looking for the next big thing. What will replace streaming as the newest television innovation in the years to come? Michael Luisi, an experienced studio executive who has worked for WWE Studios and Disney, analyzes the market and describes how it will likely change in the near future.
Many industry professionals believe that virtual reality (VR) is the key to television advances in the next decade. According to Michael Luisi, virtual reality has taken its place among the most advanced visual technology in the world. Physicians have been able to use VR to help them plan surgeries. It can be used to create large-scale engineering mockups and to plan traffic movement in a city.
Though VR has shown some impressive developments in technical and science applications, it has mostly been used in entertainment as a component of interactive video games. There is a great deal of buzz around VR in entertainment, and many industry pundits believe that VR will be the next big thing in television.
In the mid-2000s, there was a great deal of interest in immersive VR video games like Second Life. Second Life was a pioneer in producing quality entertainment programming for their viewers, using in-game performances from such notable stars as the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and Suzanne Vega.
There is a large, untapped market for VR movies and television. Oculus Rift introduced its Oculus TV service in 2018. This platform allows viewers to see movies and shows on the equivalent of a 180-inch wraparound screen. The cost of the Oculus Rift has prevented the wide scale use of the platform, but it has been quite popular among early adopters.
How Television Will Change
There are several different types of VR equipment on the market today. Like Oculus Rift, these systems tend to be bulky and based on an expensive headset. The cost of acquiring a system makes VR television a less attainable dream. As these systems develop, their price may drop to the point where the average consumer may consider buying them.
Filming native shows and movies to be shown in VR will take some adjustment. Rather than using a multiple-camera system, VR will benefit from a single-camera system. Sets and backdrops will need to be created in a 360-degree environment. An alternative is creating a hybrid of CGI and film, where backgrounds will be filled in by an AI system. As VR technology matures, programs can also be filmed and watched in 3-D.
Barriers to Adoption
The primary barrier to the adoption of VR television is the high cost of headsets. An Oculus Rift headset costs between $350 and $450, and one headset must be purchased for each viewer. There are lower-cost models on the market, with many cameras which can hold a smartphone. The smartphone model may be the easiest way to get VR television on the market.
Television and VR
The potential for immersive TV viewing will take the platform to the next level. VR shows and movies will be able to offer fresh and new takes on the platform, using creative output from the world of entertainment studios as well as video game producers. Michael Luisi is one of the entertainment experts who highlights the importance of VR in entertainment going forward.