The BBC has announced the launch of a VR department, called VR Hub, that is going to invest in the creation of virtual content.
The BBC has been experimenting with the medium for a number of years. Among the experiences already released include putting users in the shoes of refuges in We Wait, and taking them back to the Easter Rising of 1916. These experiences have all been made available on Oculus Rift, Google Daydream and Samsung Gear VR.
The BBC’s first experience on HTC Vive, A VR Spacewalk, was released on 30 November.
VR Hub will look to bring these collective efforts under a collective banner, and act as an internal centre to unite programme makers and digital experts. The new department plans to begin creating content across a range of genres within the coming months.
In a blog post on the BBC site, VR Hub head of content Zillah Watson, wrote:
“Today we’re also announcing our next steps in VR, with a studio spearheading our VR production and exploring how VR can create real audience impact. We act as a hub internally, working closely with our programme makers and digital experts. And over the coming months we’ll be creating pieces across the range of genres the BBC is famous for.”
The BBC undertook research into audience reception of VR experiences in July 2017. What the data seemed to show that as long as the amount of high-quality content available remains low, consumers tend to view the experience as cumbersome and not worth investing their time in.
Participants in the research responded best to experiences that put them right in the middle of exciting or intense experiences, like the rollercoasters or horror scenarios.
VR Hub initially strategy is to try and target specific and distinct audiences with every new commission. And, being one of the most widely recognised media companies on the planet ensures that the amount of potential users that could be brought in is potentially huge.
“We believe the BBC can bring a unique perspective to VR,” wrote Watson.
“We have an unparalleled position in the lives of the UK population. Every week we reach 95% of the UK population and we have the most trusted broadcast news brand in the world, reaching almost 400m people through the BBC World Service alone.”