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The following is a guest contributed post from Dave Hodgson

Over the past 30 years, media has figured out a way to deliver news while using cutting-edge technology, offering new and innovative ways for consumers to view content. From the dot.com era to the social media revolution, media has found a way to transform to fit consumer needs.

It’s no wonder that some of the largest players in media space are jumping aboard the hottest bandwagon in technology – virtual reality – before most consumers even have their own VR headset. VR is a young, fresh technology, and at this point the majority of Americans aren’t spending their free time exploring virtual worlds. So why is the media so insistent on including it in their strategy?

Today’s consumers must be met where they are – online, including mobile websites and apps like Snapchat and Facebook. As publishers look for the next way to get in front of their customers, what better place to meet them and command their attention than with a fully-immersive platform accessible from anywhere? Virtual reality is the answer.

You might not own a headset (yet), but major players in the broadcasting and publishing industry understand that VR isn’t coming—it’s already here. They understand that it’s going to be big. And, it will change the way that consumers experience media, from broadcast news to magazines, and here’s why.

Improving Storytelling

Virtual reality offers a powerful way to tell a story, and both broadcasters and publishers are beginning to capitalize on it. Accessibility to up-to-the-minute news content has produced a media industry that thrives off emotions from consumers. It’s what drives social media shares, traffic and commentary that causes a stir and keeps people coming back for more.

News outlets such as the Associated Press and New York Times are producing VR content that elicits emotion. The lens of virtual reality brings consumers closer to the heart-wrenching action, providing a media experience that verges on cinematographic.

Extending Digital Offerings

VR fits into the desire to extend digital offerings. With 84 percent of American adults using the Internet and 68 percent owning a smartphone, it’s no wonder that consumers are clamoring for high-quality digital content.

Virtual reality heightens the demand for quality digital content, bringing in a multitude of opportunities for media properties looking to take their readers into the heart of the action.

Stiff Competition for Viewer Eyes

Publishers aren’t the only ones using VR to captivate audiences, giving them a taste of an experience that once seemed unattainable. Broadcast companies are looking for VR as a way to compete for viewer attention, especially in a multi-billion dollar sports industry.

The appeal of sporting events in virtual reality might not be obvious at first. However, pioneering VR technology allows fans to experience games in ways not possible with traditional television.

Rather than experiencing a sporting or other broadcast event from a few pre-determined angles, VR opens up the potential for viewers to customize their content. That’s an absolutely invaluable offering for broadcasters at a time when the consumer has more options than ever for viewing, but very few for customization.

A New Generation of Content

VR plays into the demand for both real-time and immersive content, and consumers want that  experience when viewing content. They don’t just want to watch live events—they want to feel like they’re there. Virtual reality puts consumers right in the center of it. VR is just what old-school content creators such as newspapers, magazines and TV need in order to keep things fresh and exciting.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dave Hodgson is North America sales and distribution director for Zeiss Multimedia Devices, a group within the consumer products division of Zeiss, makers of camera lens, binoculars and scopes. Multimedia devices include the Zeiss VR One headset and future wearable devices with specialized lenses.

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