In the past four years over $4b has been invested in VR. From Oculus and Cardboard to Hive and Gear; it’s clear that tech brands are betting big on virtual.
And why not, the experiences VR offers are just too exciting to ignore. Why continue to watch from afar when you can stand in the middle of the action?
But the rise of VR will not mean the death of TV.
There are so many occasions when VR would be a waste of time. A family isn’t going to strap their headsets on just to watch an episode of Corrie. That would be weird!
VR’s success will not come at the expense of TV, it will come from its ability to transport people out of their living rooms. And I’d wager that music events will be a key destination.
Last year, UK festivals generated over £270m in revenue and are predicted to hit £3b by 2019. And yet there is a problem; there are simply not enough tickets to go round. The future of music events are limited by their very (physical) existence.
This isn’t just an annoyance for music fans, it’s a major concern for musicians who earn more than 50% of their income from ticketed events.
This is the moment VR can help.
Fans who are unable to attend a physical event will be able to beam in virtually. With cameras positioned in the VIP area, you’ll be able to experience the immersive sights and sounds of the festival as though you were actually there. You could even get a view from the stage itself and see what it’s like to perform in front of 50,000 people.
As physical tickets can retail for more than £200, a VR pass of £10 makes it a very compelling option. Whilst that may sound overly cheap, it will supercharge profits for organisers.
Glastonbury has a capacity of 135,000 – generating revenue of approx. £35m. But with almost 8m 16-24yr’s expressing an interest in attending – a £10 ticket would almost triple profits.
So, what role will brands play?
It could actually make the complicated world of VR much simpler to navigate. Rather than having to think about producing original VR content, brands can approach the technology as an extension of experiential. If you have a physical space at a festival, then create a similar experience for VR audiences – it’s as simple as that.
I recognise that many people still see VR as a novelty. How could it ever replace the experience of standing in the middle of a festival watching a headline act?
But 60 years ago people said the same thing about televised football matches. Why on earth would real fans watch a match at home rather than the stadium? Yet fast forward to present day and the Premier League have just sold their global TV rights for £5.1b.
That’s ultimately why I believe VR will be a success. Because the role of technology should not be to replace live experiences – it should simply offer access to those who would not otherwise be there.
This article was first published for the IAB.