Within the entertainment industry, Virtual Reality is very much the next big thing. And the appeal is so undeniable, it is no wonder that despite the Netflix and HBO led Golden Age of television, companies are looking into the possibilities provided by VR. The ability to fully immersive yourself in fantastical worlds, once relegated to science fiction stories and movies, is fast becoming a reality, and TV companies, constantly striving for new ways to deliver quality programmes of all genres, are trying to understand just how feasible the inclusion of VR might be.
Whilst you could be forgiven for thinking that VR technology is brand new, in actuality it has been in existence for a while.
There have been many attempts to make it a success in the past, most of which have ended in failure. But with recent developments and investment from companies like Google, Sony, Samsung and Facebook, to name a few, have brought the technology into prominence and the public eye.
Aside from great content, helping TV to remain relevant to a younger audience, many of whom are migrating to other mediums, like YouTube, and apps like Instagram. The problem here is that these apps have far more users than VR currently. Only around 20 million headsets have been sold, which may sound like a lot, but is nothing compared to the billion monthly views that YouTube has.
But this is a short term problem, and one that is shared by every new piece of technology at its genesis. Studies predict that in 4 years, the amount spent on VR will increase to $9bn. This is a huge emerging market, and it is only logical that TV producers begin to experiment with it.
One issue is that companies are treating VR as a bridge, rather than a destination. That is to say, instead of creating content for exclusively VR or content that is best in VR, they are producing what they normally would, and forcing into VR.
Eventually it will evolve to the point where virtual reality has its own language and formats, but right now it is stuck in the position early cinema found itself in. Once developers focus on VR engines, akin to video game engines, as opposed to thing like 3D cameras, progress will be quicker. Another is the well documented problem of motion sickness. If your first experience of VR is bad, you may not return for a long time.
The final problem is that of storytelling. If we are free to explore and interact with a VR world however we want, it is difficult to guarantee that the story will be driven in the way you expect. This may require changes in how stories and narratives are written for VR, which poses a challenge to TV writers