VR: Games May Be Dominant, But VR Is Also A Great Video Medium

July 14, 2017 - Written By Justin Diaz

Games may be the dominant, driving force for virtual reality technology, and that’s probably not too surprising to some consumers, but chances are there are some out there who aren’t aware of the growing list of options for using VR as a medium/platform for watching video content. Yes, virtual reality offers a handful of different options when it comes to watching your favorite shows, or catching up on some your favorite videos from that one YouTube channel that you love. Whatever you enjoy, there’s like a way to watch it in VR, and most of the apps or programs are available on more than one platform so you don’t have to be limited to what you pick up hardware-wise. If you’re interested in checking out virtual reality as a means of watching video, you have your options.

VR Video Apps

The list is certainly not as extensive as it is with regular mobile apps but the list is growing, and many of the top video content providers already have VR versions of their apps available for both Daydream and Gear VR, which means no matter which platform you choose you’ll likely be able to watch all of the shows (or movies) you want and can handle.

Netflix for Daydream/Netflix for Gear VR

While you might have suspected its availability, it’s ok if you weren’t completely sure. Netflix does have an available VR version of its mobile app which can be used for watching Netflix content in virtual reality for a different take on your favorite Netflix shows. It offers up an immersive experience that you won’t get when watching Netflix on your TV, and it can be quite cool to mimic watching Netflix on a giant display, as the app puts your video content up on a huge virtual screen. While it might not be the best idea to sit down and binge an entire season of something in VR, it’s great for watching video in smaller chunks of time. You’ll need a Netflix subscription of course, but there aren’t any additional fees for the VR version of this app, so you can dig in using an existing account.

HBO NOW VR/ HBO GO VR

Both of HBO’s mobile apps offer a VR version, and if you’re a sucker for some of the shows that HBO provides, then you’ll want to give the VR version a go, especially if you’re a fan of Game of Thrones which is coming up on its seventh season, set to debut this coming Sunday. Just like with Netflix, you’ll need to subscribe to HBO to access the content, and this can be done with HBO GO via cable provider subscription to the network, or through HBO NOW which offers a standalone subscription service separate from your cable bill. This is also the perfect option if you don’t have cable as you can still access all of the same HBO content, and at the same time it goes live on air.

YouTube VR

Daydream is Google’s VR platform, so naturally you shouldn’t be surprised that Google’s video sharing and video content consumption platform is available in a virtual reality setting. YouTube VR is just like regular YouTube, but like the other two apps listed here everything is presented on a giant virtual screen, making things feel more immersive. All of the same content is available too.

Hulu

While Netflix is arguably better for original content and a wider selection of mainstream films, Hulu is the place to be for currently airing TV shows. The best part about it too, is that Hulu gets shows the week an episode airs, and in most cases the day after it airs on television, allowing you to keep up with your favorite shows as they unfold throughout the season instead of having to wait for the season to finish, and then wait some more before it hits Netflix, which is usually the way things break down. Like all the other apps listed, save for YouTube, you’ll need a Hulu subscription, but once logged in you’ll have tons of TV at your fingertips.

360-Degree Videos

There’s nothing quite like immersing yourself in virtual reality, and thanks to the growing demand as well as the growing library of 360-degree content, virtual reality is becoming a large collective of one-of-a-kind experiences you won’t find elsewhere. Much of the 360-degree video content you can see in VR you can also watch on YouTube and other video players, but clicking and dragging to pan the camera around isn’t the same as feeling like you’re actually there when you spin your head around to see what’s happening in another direction.

360-degree video content continues to expand too as companies are making it easier and easier for average users to record and upload their own 360-degree videos with more than adequate cameras that capture 360 videos, and at prices that are steadily dropping. The most recent Gear 360 is a good example of this. You can pick one up for $199. Now, that might seem like it’s still a little bit expensive, but it’s cheaper than the original Gear 360 and it’s quite a bit cheaper than options from other brands, like Garmin’s new 360 camera┬ácalled the VIRB 360. There’s no denying that Garmin’s option is going to be a great product, but it’s also much more expensive than the average consumer is going to pay. Putting cost aside, 360-degree videos are an excellent way to experience VR that don’t require you to do anything or interact with anything, like a controller, for the majority of the experience. Just like with apps such as Netflix and Hulu, you can simply pick your content and then sit back, relax, and enjoy the show in a whole new and immersive way.

Wrap Up

There’s lots of video content available for VR and much of it is the same types of content you can watch elsewhere, but in a new way. Watching TV shows and movies is great on an actual, physical big screen TV, but it’s awesome in VR and something that just has to be experienced, even if it’s not something you do often. Whatever it is you’re into, chances are it’s available to watch in VR, so strap on that headset and dive in to see what you can discover.