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Trending VR: Chinese Video Sites Investing in Virtual Reality

In China, virtual reality is gaining a lot of traction.

Consider this: Chinese video websites Youku Tudou and iQiyi have begun creating and adopting virtual reality (VR) content, a development industry observers say has the potential to “reshuffle the sector.”

The news came from a recent media interview with Gu Yongqiang, chair and CEO of the Heyi Group which operates Youku and Tudou, who said his company plans to offer users VR content that could drive the growth of VR gear. In fact, Gu’s company has announced its plan to invest 10 billion yuan (U.S. $1.6 billion) to create its own content, including new VR content.

The Heyi Group recently worked with video production company Insta360 and shot its August Tudou Festival in 360-degree video. The video will reportedly be available for viewing with VR headsets in October.

It will help that YouTube, the site which pioneered online video streaming, began allowing users to upload their VR content earlier this year.

“Tang Xing, chief technology officer at iQiyi, said video services are set to move from 3D to VR and hologram, given the growing user demand for picture and sound quality,” according to WantChinaTimes. “Heyi and iQiyi have both said they will not produce VR headsets themselves in the short term, opting instead to work with external suppliers.”

Those external suppliers include leading VR headset manufacturer Oculus (a Facebook acquisition in March 2014), as well as Google, Microsoft, Samsung, and Sony which have all expanded into the arena.

Market researcher Analysys International forecasts that sales of VR gear in China will reach 180 million yuan (U.S.$28.1 million) in 2015 and by as much as 2.1 billion yuan (U.S. $328 million) by 2017.

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