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All-Around Player: CNN’s 360 Video Push Evolves Beyond Experimental Stage

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CNN says it is beginning to see its investment in 360-degree video pay dividends. CNN vp, premium content video Jason Farkas during a panel at the VR Society’s Art of VR conference Thursday said the company’s VR play has moved beyond the experimentation phase. “This is actually starting to gel into a business with a model, a distribution plan, revenue,” he said.

While many media outlets struggle to efficiently create and widely distribute immersive content, CNN’s pre-existing infrastructure has given it an edge. Farkas noted CNN sources 360 video from its 43 news bureaus worldwide.

In terms of distribution, the net is incorporating 360 videos into its recently relaunched mobile app, which boasts an install base of more than 70mln devices. Farkas said that reach makes CNN the “third-largest mobile-enabled 360 platform after Google and Facebook.” The VR experience that CNN offers isn’t the most advanced use of the technology, but it has scale and doesn’t require viewers to own high-end hardware to engage with it. “As you’re reading about Aleppo, you can virtually go there in a lite experience—a cardboard sort of way—but it also cues the people who are VR advocates and early adopters to watch us on a real, legitimate headset,” Farkas said. In addition, Farkas countered the idea that 360 video is “old hat” now that more immersive VR experiences are available, noting most consumers haven’t even experimented with the content in headsets.

Other news operations represented on the panel— USA Today and the New York Times—seemed to take a similar approach to CNN in terms of focusing on 360 video and using it within online articles. USA Today director of 360/VR news Robert Pidavick stressed that even when the outlet creates an experience for higher-end headsets, it makes sure to leverage that content on non-interactive platforms, as well. Farkas said CNN has plans to launch its first room-scale VR experience later this fall utilizing the Occulus Rift headset, but didn’t share specifics. He also noted CNN is planning an elaborate live-streaming 360 experience around the total eclipse on Aug 21.

On the non-news side, Syfy/USA Network senior director of emerging platforms Matt Romano said Syfy’s VR play is important for the brand, regardless of scale or business return, simply because its fans expect the net to be on emerging platforms based on the intersection between science-fiction and technology. He also revealed that the net is planning an augmented reality (AR) offering around the early August premiere of “Sharknado 5.”

Source: http://all-around-player-cnns-360-video-push-evolves-beyond-experimental-stage

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