It has been one heck of a week within the virtual reality content space for new large players to emerge. Just yesterday HBO and Discovery announced that they took equity positions within OTOY, and then this morning it was revealed that Verizon’s AOL had just acquired the 360-degree video and VR content creator RYOT. Well, this afternoon, yet another major media and technology company, Sony, has revealed their ambitions within the VR content space via their subsidiary Crackle.
Later this year Crackle will be rolling out a virtual reality theater, much like the one that Netflix offers its users via a mobile app, only that the Crackle theater will play their original content and utilize a unique form of advertising. Basically Crackle’s content will still remain in 2D format, but users will be able to put on a virtual reality headset and enter a movie theater-like environment where that 2D content is viewable on a screen within a 3D realm. Unlike Netflix’s theater application, Crackle’s theater will integrate advertising in a very clever way. When a user who’s immersed in the VR theater glances around, they will see ads and logos of advertisers throughout the environment. Perhaps a Coca-Cola logo will be on the chair in front of them, or a poster for an upcoming movie will be on the wall within the virtual theater. Additionally Crackle will offer advertising clients the ability to insert virtual reality commercials into their content so that when a commercial is ready to play, if a user is immersed in the VR theater, they will be transported to another world that the advertiser pays for.
“At Crackle, we believe that creating content and ad experiences that mirror changing consumer habits are instrumental for driving viewer attention,” said Eric Berger, Crackle general manager and executive vice president of Sony Pictures Television Digital Networks. “We’re charting a path for television with a sustainable ad model that is a win for the advertiser, the network and most importantly, the consumer.”
Crackle is also working diligently to create their own 360-degree content, which can then be sponsored by advertisers. In fact, they have already reportedly lined up their first advertiser, LG, who will be promoting their latest G5 smartphone along with the LG 360 VR headset and LG 360 Camera. While Crackle only makes up a small portion of Sony’s current revenue stream, it’s refreshing to see that the company is thinking outside the box when it comes to monetizing VR content in ways not possible with traditional media. Let’s hear your thoughts on Crackle’s ambitions within the VR space in the Crackle VR Content forum on VRTalk.com.