Ellen DeGeneres just gave her show’s audience two Oculus Go headsets each, funded as a marketing expense by Facebook. Ellen’s audience is typically around 400 strong, so this would equate to around 800 VR headsets given away.
Why two Oculus Go’s each, you may ask? We can’t be certain, but it’s likely that Facebook wants the audience to use the social VR apps available on the headset with people they know.
Ellen’s guest star Jeff Garlin, dressed as a Christmas elf, listed “watching a a live basketball game with anyone anywhere” when reading out the description of the product. This is possible through the Oculus Venues app, which now offers NBA games thanks to a partnership with sports streaming company NextVR.
An Oculus Go can also be won by anyone online. Entry is done via the Ellen website.
This isn’t the first time VR headsets have been given out to a large audience. Back in 2016, Valve CEO Gabe Newell announced that the Unity game engine would natively support SteamVR by giving all the developers in the audience a free HTC Vive. At Facebook’s F8 conference this year, the company gave all the developers in the audience a free Oculus Go.
This may however be the first time VR headsets have been given out to an audience of regular consumers. Ellen’s show and YouTube channel are viewed by millions of Americans, so this giveaway may just have have raised awareness of the potential of virtual reality to a whole new section of the public.