Broadcaster Sky jumps into digital actuality, launches new content material studio and readies VR app

Broadcaster Sky jumps into virtual reality, launches new content studio and readies VR app

European pay-television broadcaster Sky — a lengthy-time investor in digital actuality startup Jaunt — immediately positioned itself as a extra direct content material participant within the VR world. At present the corporate — which has 21 million subscribers and is majority owned by twenty first Century Fox — launched Sky VR Studio, a manufacturing unit devoted to creating immersive video content material particularly for VR units and platforms, beginning first with sports activities content material after which tackling leisure and information, too.

Initially, Sky will add materials to third-get together platforms like Fb 360, Oculus and (quickly, the corporate tells me) YouTube 360, which can make it viewable utilizing headsets like Samsung’s Gear VR and the Oculus Rift. Ultimately, Sky needs to develop its personal app and is considering tips on how to have its personal wider platform to host and stream immersive VR video itself.

“The Sky VR Studio permits us so as to add a brand new dimension to storytelling, taking viewers to extraordinary locations and providing a singular perspective on an entire host of occasions. The event of VR know-how is shifting at an unimaginable tempo and pleasure is constructing about its potential,” stated Gary Davey, Managing Director, Content material at Sky, in a press release. “Our experience throughout a variety of video content material, from unique drama to reside sport, provides us a singular potential to deliver VR to life for patrons. That is simply the beginning and we’re wanting ahead to creating extra superb VR content material and exploring the chances with our tech and content material companions.”

The VR launch is sensible as a result of it lastly provides some transparency to why Sky has been investing in Jaunt.

The broadcaster has been concerned in each spherical raised by the VR hardware and software program firm since its seed spherical in 2013, and it seems that the pair have been working collectively intently for the previous three years. Sky makes use of Jaunt cameras and the startup has been a daily marketing consultant to Sky on the way it has developed VR video.

Sky’s not the one strategic VR/AR investor whose monetary curiosity is now coming good on the product entrance. Earlier in the present day, Alibaba — a main investor within the nonetheless-stealth augmented actuality and VR startup Magic Leap — at present introduced its personal VR R&D lab, the GnomeMagicLab, which sounds greater than just a little like a play on Magic Leap and the lovable animations it’s been releasing to tease its personal merchandise.

Sky leaping into digital actuality can also be logical when you contemplate how the corporate has developed its content material traditionally.

Within the UK and different markets the place it operates (Eire, Germany, Austria and Italy), Sky pioneered the thought of paying giant charges for rights for particular content material like sports activities, nabbing exclusives to broadcast Premier League matches and utilizing that to construct its subscriber base.

Slicing and dicing that expensive content material into totally different sorts of video packages is a method of getting extra mileage out of these belongings, extending the time that a viewer spends with Sky, and giving these views extra of a cause to pay for its service.

“Given the entry and rights that Sky has we may give a singular perspective,” a Sky spokesperson advised TechCrunch.

Sky shouldn’t be the one broadcaster to dip its toes into VR waters. Others embrace Fox Sports activities, which just lately introduced that it’ll work with NextVR to supply VR content material for the NCAA Huge East basketball event.

However it might be the primary that thinks it could port the VR expertise to a wider array of pursuits — thereby probably taking VR out of the area of interest that it appears to be digging quick for itself round motion sports activities and gaming.

Nonetheless, the primary productions from Sky VR Studio might be low hanging fruit. They may give attention to sports activities — particularly two automotive-racing movies made with Formulation One and Williams Martini Racing, in addition to Tour de France and boxing movies. From there, the corporate says it’ll broaden to leisure, information and extra.

Information is an space the place the corporate has already produced some 360-fashion content material, particularly in a documentary profiling the migrants which are coming by way of Europe in the intervening time.

It’s additionally nonetheless looking for its ft within the area. “We’re exploring what works for VR and what doesn’t,” the spokesperson stated. “It’s all about making an attempt to offer viewers entry to one thing we haven’t seen earlier than.”

For now, all of the content material that Sky might be making in VR shall be free, though should you take a look at the remainder of Sky’s enterprise mannequin round video, providing free now could possibly be laying the groundwork for charging sooner or later: the corporate’s TV providers are based mostly round a paid subscription, and Sky Go, its on-line and cellular service, comes as a freebie for present TV subscribers, otherwise you pay in case you are not.