As numerous media giants enter the virtual reality space, competition seems to be heating up in a big way. While most media companies have yet to truly figure out what their virtual reality calling may be, many are simply dipping their toe into the space and testing numerous forms of VR content creation. AOL and their parent company Verizon are one such entity, and in fact just a couple of weeks ago, through their Huffington Post division, they decided to acquire the virtual reality studio known as RYOT. This isn’t where AOL’s VR ambitions have ended however.
Today the company announced that they will be opening a live virtual reality studio in downtown Manhattan, capable of housing a live studio audience, with a street-facing main stage. The studio, which is on ground-level at 692 Broadway, will be be where the company’s interview series, AOL Build, will be filmed once it opens this fall. For those who have never tuned into any of the AOL Build series, to date they have produced more than 800 episodes, and they film approximately 4 hours worth of content each day, all live.
“The studio reflects our commitment to creating immersive live experiences and creating a studio that will serve as a cultural destination, digitally, as well as within New York City,” Jimmy Maymann, exec VP and president of AOL Content and Consumer Brands, said during his announcement of their plans. “With its state-of-the-art technology and the creative team behind it, we’re connecting the physical and digital worlds for our consumer, much like the way we live our lives.”
Basically the new studio, which will span an area of 13,412-square-feet, will be able to house these live events, and likely others, while AOL will have the capability to film it all in a 360-degree, virtual reality compatible format. With millions of VR headsets shipping this year alone, and tens of millions of devices expected to ship in 2017, the company seems to be investing for a future where VR media consumption is the norm. While we’ve already seen other media companies such as The Guardian and The New York Times embrace VR, this move could just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Verizon’s VR ambitions.
Let’s hear your thoughts on this new studio planned to open in the heart of Manhattan. Will this be a trend other media companies begin to follow? Discuss in the AOL’s New VR Studio forum on VRTalk.com.