The transition from 2D, flat video entertainment to 360 experiences is not going to happen overnight. Institutional changes will have to occur for recording technology, production techniques, script writing, and a myriad of other creative components before we see the change happen on any sort of scale. The bottom line is that it’s going to take time, effort, and – most of all – money to see the medium of video storytelling transformed. However, luckily for us a player may soon be entering the game that has those qualities in spades: Netflix.
During an interview at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Netflix’s VP of Product Innovation David Jaffe admitted that his group is investigating the potential of 360 video for their platform:
“Right now, with virtual reality, we think virtual reality has a great place in gaming,” Jaffe told Trusted Reviews’ Sean Keach, “and we’re very interested in where it could go in storytelling…We’re tracking where that goes.”
Netflix’s involvement would be huge for the VR scene for one major reason: Netflix is not YouTube. The 360 content that Netflix would produce is a far cry from the user generated content, or minutes-long experiments by major brands, seen on the YouTube. Netflix invests money, time and talent into productions which are almost always feature or series length in scope. Netflix could be the player that the 360 video movement needs to turn the technology from a niche product into a popular new method for producing entertainment online.
Gear VR users can already enjoy their Netflix experience in a pre-modeled 3D environment. What will likely provide the biggest influence on Netflix’s decision to take the plunge deeper into VR is the same thing that every other major content provider is waiting to see: the adoption rates. The more Oculus Rifts, HTC Vives, PSVRs, and Gear VRs people purchase, the larger the potential user base for a content creator like Netflix. For this to happen, there will need to be enough headsets in the wild to make the investment seem justifiable to Netflix.
So, if you want to watch season 5 of Daredevil in immersive 360, make sure you buy between 10 and 20 headsets when the commercial launches begin in March. Do your part for your country!
As a side note, we’re also waiting for the Hulu app to launch on Oculus and as a major video platform itself, there’s also a chance Hulu could be exploring 360 content, too.