Hollywood Sees Virtual Reality as Game Changer, Study Finds

The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) and National Association of Television Program Executives (NATPE) have announced the findings of a joint virtual reality (VR) research study of content creators in the Hollywood community that paint a picture for the future of the nascent technology. The study is part of an ongoing multi-year partnership between the two organizations.

The study, conducted through 16 in-depth interviews and presented yesterday during a panel session at CES 2016 (running in Las Vegas, NV through Saturday), reveals that participants are passionate about the new medium and think it is likely a game changer.

The study finds there are understandable hurdles that still need to be addressed, including: generating a sustainable model for content creation, establishing a clear pathway to monetization and determining the endurance cap for sustained viewing that will affect long-form storytelling.

“VR is the latest platform of immersive entertainment, with massive experimentation in content development last year,” said Steve Koenig, senior director of market research, Consumer Technology Association. “A definitive trend at CES 2016 this week, the VR ecosystem will continue to advance and expand in 2016.”

“The future of VR is dependent on quality content and, with this study we wanted to provide a more comprehensive look at Hollywood’s attitudes on the many opportunities and challenges this technology faces,” said NATPE President and CEO, Rod Perth. “This study presents a snapshot of the types of genres that could be adapted to this dynamic technology but also offers a realistic picture of its limitations.”

What are the Best Applications?

In offering a fully immersive environment, VR has many applications beyond gaming. In speculating where it could go next, content creator participants identified horror as the next strongest genre, making an even more visceral and immersive experience. Other possibilities mentioned include, sporting events and concerts that are live streamed in VR to create a 360-degree view of the action.

What are the Obstacles and Challenges?

Of those interviewed, the consensus is that potential obstacles remain to VR’s mass adoption, including the rate of headset purchases, the length of time users can comfortably use a headset, technical issues with filming the content, the availability of quality content and concerns of a solitary experience for the VR user.

Is VR just a fad?

Most agree that VR represents a new method of storytelling that offers an entirely new platform for consumers to experience entertainment and many other types of content.

Why Now?

Asked why VR is taking off now as a viable new medium, many respondents pointed to existence of the smartphone. Consumers now have VR in their pockets. Additionally, the number of video game consoles already in homes will be critical to driving VR beyond early adopters. Participants see this as a big year for the technology with high-end devices like HTC Vice, Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR all being rolled out into the consumer market. The rate of adoption will guide how quickly the market will evolve.

CTA expects unit sales of VR headsets to increase by 500 percent from 2015, to reach 1.2 million units sold. Total revenues are projected to reach $540 million, a 440 percent increase.

The executive summary of the survey results is available for media upon request and the complete report will be available for free to CTA member companies at members.CE.org, and to NATPE members who email marketing@natpe.org with subject line “Virtual Reality Research Request” (make sure to include your full name and company). Non-members can purchase the study for $2,000 at store.CTA.tech.

At the end of the month, conversation on Virtual Reality and its future will continue at NATPE Miami 2016 with the session“What’s Real About Virtual Reality? Demystifying VR for Storytellers and Brands.” The conference and marketplace is scheduled for Jan. 19-21 at both the Fontainebleau and Eden Roc Miami Beach resorts.  Owned and produced by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)™ – formerly the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) – CES 2016 is the world’s gathering place for all who thrive on the business of consumer technologies, and will run January 6-9, 2016, in Las Vegas, NV.

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