Wevr is following in the footsteps of traditional media companies like HBO, Netflix and Hulu. The virtual reality startup is launching a $20 annual subscription premium channel on its Transport service, offering early VR users unlimited access to exclusive content like Deepak Chopra’s Finding Your True Self, Tyler Hurd’s Tribeca Film Festival VR hit, Old Friend, Reggie Watts’ Waves and theBlu Season 1.
Transport is currently available on HTC Vive and Samsung Gear VR. The beta is running on Oculus Rift and Google Daydream. Anthony Batt, co-founder of Wevr, told UploadVR his team is working on a PlayStation VR version and all platforms will be supported by early 2017.
Batt said Transport was created because it’s critical in an early market to create a direct relationship with an audience.
“Consumers now understand the idea that subscribing to HBO, Netflix and Hulu funds superior content,” Batt said. “We think it’s a great model and believe it will work for the VR industry at large. The opportunity of making and programming brave VR and establishing serious connection between the audience and creators is our path forward. We think it is a win-win for everyone if we prevail.”
Batt said Wevr was influenced by the record label Sub Pop’s subscription service, “singles club,” where fans paid a very reasonable fee and trusted that the releases they sent you would be of a certain quality. That’s exactly what Wevr wants to do with VR.
“We want to establish a symbiotic relationship between this emerging audience and the creators,” Batt said. “We value these works and believe in their worth. By making Transport a subscriber product, we are trying to make it extremely convenient for an audience to find the very best experiences.”
Hurd told UploadVR Rene Pinnell at Kaleidoscope showed Wevr an early version of Old Friend, an interactive VR music video.
“I had decided I was making Old Friend and they were excited to get me whatever I needed to keep it moving and gave me the creative freedom to be as weird and crazy as I want, which for any artist is a huge priority,” Hurd said. “Transport has been a place for a really wide variety of unique content, which I appreciate a lot, it’s great to see a company making all these cool risky VR projects happen and getting them out into the world.”
Hurd said listening to the “Future Islands” song in his regular rotation inspired the visuals, and the people in his life that he’s shared many late night dance parties with inspired the specific dance moves.
“The song for me brings this kind of uninhibited excitement, the kind that makes you dance in a way that is certainly not cool at all, but is extremely fun and makes people laugh,” Hurd said. “My aim was to recreate this ‘stupid joy’ or ‘nonsensical joy’ for the participant, by completely surrounding them in a world where only that feeling exists, no matter what they choose to look at or do with their hands.”
Batt said since the company’s desire is to continue to fund creative VR artists so they can make great work and, most, if not all, of the revenue from the new subscription service will be shared with the artists to make new VR projects.
“Our focus right now is primarily the VR creative community,” Batt added. “We want to win their support so that we can build an audience together. We are confident that the consumer will grow as VR projects get better and better and become more viral. The challenge is to get more creatives making VR projects that will inspire consumers to spend more time with VR. We believe a narrow focus on winning these VR creators in a meaningful way will make a positive impact for the industry in a much broader way.”
Batt said the plan is to add new content for subscribers. In the future, he’s open to adopting a monthly subscription option, but there’s enough content today for an annualized model.
Chopra told UploadVR the Finding Your True Self program he’s created with Wevr will continue. He expects to have another VR program available within six months and he’ll start working on that in the next six to eight weeks.
“What I learned from this first program was that we underestimated the power of the (VR) technology,” Chopra said. “We could have done more things. And we will do more things next time to create an even richer multi-sensory experience.”
Chopra said Finding Your True Self was designed to give users a deeper understanding of the nature of experience, as well as the nature of their own self.
“We are trying to replicate in the 16 or 18 minutes that we have, the Buddha’s journey to Nirvana, toward enlightenment, toward understanding,” Chopra said.
Wevr continues to develop Gnomes and Goblins with Jon Favreau. Batt said the full experience will be completed by this time next year.
“We don’t know how that all turns out now,” Batt said. “It might be available on Transport or it might be stand-alone product.”
There will be plenty of other content available in between. And ultimately, the goal is to one day become the Netflix of VR.
“We’d love to see us get to that point, but it might be 10 years out,” Batt said. “We don’t know.”