Digital Future

How Entertainment Will Be All About Experiences

Mar 20, 2017 at 3:45 AM | Approx. reading time 4 mins.

Technologies such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) have empowered entertainers to immerse their audiences into intended experiences. What is even more powerful is that the rate at which these new technologies have proliferated in the last decade is far higher than that of the entire previous half century of developments.

About deep immersive experiences

See-through AR device such as the Microsoft HoloLens is becoming mainstream. It has been effectively used in public relations and marketing initiatives for motion pictures, television and other promotional campaigns.

For example, as part of the release of the DVD, Frozen Planet, BBC partnered with augmented reality firm Appshaker to create an AR event at the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery. Here people could play with polar bears and dolphins as they stood on polar ice. As part of the promotion of Batman vs Superman, Roadshow Films and JCDecaux used AR to set kiosks in malls where shoppers could choose their favorite superhero and play competitive games that were immersive. An example of gamers enjoying the potential of AR is ZenFri, a Winnipeg (Canada) studio that pioneered AR in 'Clandestine: Anomaly,' a location-based AR game, which turns the player's home into ground zero for an alien crash landing. And, last year's global phenomenon Pokémon Go exploited AR to a whole new level.

Real-world application of virtual and augmented realities

Gamers have truly adopted virtual reality. Owlchemy Labs recently announced that their VR game Job Simulator made $3 million in sales last year . Survios, another VR gaming company said their game, Raw Data grossed over $1 million per month in paid downloads in its first month alone.

20th Century Fox used VR in movie advertising for their blockbuster The Martian - an adventure that puts the viewer in the shoes of Matt Damon, the marooned astronaut. Subsequent films like Ghost in the Shell, Assassin's Creed, and Independence Day perfected the use of VR for movie advertising.

Until late 2015, VR was still in its hype cycle, as business conversations and investments were mainly on hardware like Google Daydream View, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and Samsung Gear VR. In 2016, however, significant investments in VR software took off. For example, Verizon's AOL purchased startup RYOT to bring VR news to its Huffington Post property. Mixed reality start-up Magic Leap added $800 million in 2016 as C round funding led by Alibaba, which took the company's valuation to $4.5 billion. This segment of the tech industry is able to rapidly take concepts with viable economics and scalability potential to consumers.

A next big platform shift is taking place

The shift to augmented and virtual realities is the next major one after that to PC's, web and mobile. Like in these previous shifts, the initial focus and investments are often dedicated to the hardware and platforms. Media companies have realized the potential in this and are backing start-ups by the dozen. For example, Comcast led the seed funding for Spaces, a start-up developing VR and mixed-reality experiences. And Disney is investing heavily in multiple startups through their renowned accelerator program.

Traditional media giants have lost the race to over-the-top companies like Google and Facebook during the last major platform shift, as they held on to traditional business models of monetization, while new competitors radically disrupted the industry; one such example being Netflix. In the case of AR and VR too the first source of revenue will be mainly through inbound advertising campaigns.

The potential for yet-to-be-discovered business models and revenue streams remains a great white space. Companies that can crack the code here will be positioned for market dominance as this platform shift matures in the years ahead.