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Sharks, Survival and Surfing: Discovery Goes Virtual Reality With New Apps

Discovery Communications embarked on a new virtual reality (VR) initiative with the launch of dedicated Discovery VR apps for iOS and Android Thursday, showing off immersive 360-degree videos from shark reefs to the streets of San Francisco.

The network also partnered with Samsung to add its content to a dedicated channel within Samsung’s MilkVR app for the company’s GearVR headset, and has plans to bring the same videos to the Oculus Rift headset soon. Viewers can also explore each video on the Discovery VR website.

At launch, Discovery VR offers access to a total of nine short 360-degree video clips. Users of the mobile apps can either explore them with a Google Cardboard-compatible VR viewer, or simply use their phone as a kind of “magic window” to look around within a scene.

Discovery is using the new VR project to promote some of its other on-air and digital assets. Mythbusters is present with a total of three clips, all filmed under water, and all featuring real-life sharks. Kyle Thiermann from Discovery Digital gives a surf lesson, and “Survivorman’s” Les Stroud explains how to survive in the wild.

The app was produced in cooperation with Los Angeles-based VR startup Littlstar, and Discovery has plans to continuously add new content. “Virtual reality has the power to immerse fans in the action, and we look forward to telling stories in this new space like never before,” said Discovery’s SVP of digital media Conal Byrne.

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