Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg plans to use 360-degree video to capture his daughter Max’s first steps. VR video will immerse family members into the scene, but leave traditional online video platforms scratching their heads.
Virtual reality, or 360 video is video that is shot in all directions at once, typically with two or more cameras. The resulting footage is stitched together and then viewers can scroll around the scene and focus on their points of interest. Hardware for capturing the content ranges in price from $350 to $60,000 or more.
[Image: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg with users on the 12th anniversary of the social network.]
VR video can certainly be useful outside of the obvious media and entertainment vertical. Nescafe used it to show the farms where their coffee comes from and Qantas made a tourism pitch for Australia. IBM used 360 video to show it’s data bunker during the US Open tennis tournament last year.
Some of the biggest challenges for Application Development & Delivery pros supporting 360 video include:
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’re probably aware that there was a new release in the Star Wars saga this week. I’m not a fan of science fiction and have somehow managed never to have seen a Star Wars movie in my life — so all of the discussion about what will happen to Luke, Leia, or the Jedi in ‘The Force Awakens’ is completely lost on me. But what I do find extremely interesting is the huge passion of my colleagues and friends to see this movie in a cinema — and as quickly as possible. In the US, Star Wars opens in 4,100 theaters and the movie is a leader in advance ticket sales around the world. And Star Wars is just one of the big blockbusters of 2015 — in fact, analysts expect this year to be Hollywood's biggest box-office year ever.
When we look at our North American Consumer Technographics data, we see that movies certainly have a place in US online consumers’ video behaviors; watching movies in theaters is just behind watching free and paid online video services like Netflix and Hulu.
Hollywood director Francis Ford Coppola once said: “The very earliest people who made films were magicians.” In some ways, things haven’t changed -- although the media producers of today seem to pull the classic reappearing act as their key trick: When content finishes on one screen, it reappears on another . . . and then another.
Video is available across myriad personal devices, and consumers’ viewing habits are fragmented across technologies. Just as channels for video consumption are becoming more profuse, the types of content that viewers seek are also increasingly diverse. In the past month alone, American audiences said hello to streaming-exclusive dramas and goodbye to long-running TV shows. This week, consumers viewed an array of films like those premiering at SXSW, and tuned into the March Madness sports frenzy.
Consumers have choices about what to watch, on which device, and when. According to Forrester’s Consumer Technographics® data, US online adults still prefer to watch longer-length video on TVs but frequently turn to smaller devices for shorter content:
Late last night, Sony revealed that it would pull The Interview from its release schedule. This decision was made in response to the step taken by the major theater chains, all agreeing that they would not screen the movie on its release day. The unprecedented decision is causing consternation among entertainment media types who feel that Sony has put the right of free speech in jeopardy. That's a conversation worth having, and I'm glad it's happening. But there is an entirely new question that this situation brings into dramatic relief, one that didn't exist before and one that our premeditations won't help us resolve. The question is this:
Can companies participate in cyber war?
Up until now, companies have prepared to defend themselves against cyber attacks as one-off nuisances. Such attacks are now so common that they no longer make the news. Even massive breaches where millions of customer data points are compromised tend to give us pause for only a few moments, perhaps a few days, and then we move on. But what Sony experienced was not just a security breach. This hack was a declaration of cyber war intended to bring Sony to its digital knees: a low-cost digitally effective cyber war that puts none of the hackers' assets in harm's way. And given yesterday's announcement, it appears to have worked.
A spate of events this month argues that the industry that revolves around video entertainment and advertising (I no longer call it the "television" industry!) has entered a period where long-delayed change will burst out:
Video ad networks/technologies YuMe and TremorVideo both went public. While neither was blockbuster, these IPOs signal that investors have enough confidence in the future of digital video that they'll put some chips on the table. They see advertisers using online video to extend their TV campaigns and this sector growing at rates far higher than the advertising market as a whole.
Two $400 million + deals for cross-device video ad technologies. The much-hyped AOL/Adap.tv deal and the quieter Extreme Reach/DG deal reflect different corporate strategies, but both are rooted in the idea that the distinctions between TV and digital video will continue to diminish. Marketers increasingly realize they must put their sight/sound/motion messages on every device if they hope to achieve the reach that TV alone used to deliver.
CBS/Time-Warner dispute. The mutual benefit of carriage fees has made the programmer/distributor relationship cozy for years. Now this relationship is fraying, and outright wars that include blackout of stations like the current CBS/Time-Warner fight have become increasingly common in the past couple of years. The lure to programmers of streaming their programs online increases in direct proportion to how contentious this relationship becomes.