Count Hulu among the digital media brands banking on immersive content as the VR market heats up.
The SVOD jumped into the virtual reality space with the launch of a VR app for the Samsung Gear VR system. The app is free to download, although content is only accessible to Hulu’s paying subscribers.
— Oculus (@oculus) March 24, 2016
Hulu has opted for several original short-form immersive productions, such as a behind-the-scenes feature from the Hulu original series RocketJump: The Show (pictured), rather than going all-out in investing in original, long-form content optimized for VR (which can be costly and difficult to produce).
According to Hulu’s website, more original short-form VR content is coming to the service from National Geographic and Viacom. Meanwhile, users can access Hulu’s regular library of content on the app and view it on their Gear headset, although it will remain in 2D.
Netflix has had a VR app available for several months; however, the app only provides access to Netflix’s library, which is not yet optimized for VR viewing.
Many tech experts have predicted that the first half of 2016 is when VR will take-off, both in terms of content and technology. Signs of that prophecy becoming reality are visible: After much anticipation, the Facebook-owned Oculus Rift headset finally became widely available for consumer March 28. Other headsets hitting shelves this year include the HTC Vive and the Sony Playstation VR. Not wanting to be behind the eight-ball, publishers such as Condé Nast, PBS and the New York Times have begun creating content for the new medium. U.K. television network Sky has also launched an in-house VR studio, and entertainment veteran Simon Fuller has partnered with Pulse Evolution to create VR and AR programming.
The Hulu VR app is available for the Samsung Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge+, Note5, S7 and S7 Edge models, all of which are viewable as VR players on the Samsung Gear VR headset.