×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Hulu Releases Virtual Reality App for Samsung Gear VR (Exclusive)

Hulu just took its first step into virtual worlds: The streaming service released an app for Samsung’s Gear VR headset Thursday that allows consumers to watch close to 30 360-degree videos. The app, which is available on the Gear VR Oculus Store, also offers access to Hulu’s entire catalog of TV shows and movies via a virtual living room.

Hulu had first announced its foray into VR back in September of 2015, but the company’s head of experience Ben Smith told Variety this week that his team decided to delay the release to get things right. “We really wanted to build an experience that we believe in,” he said.

Part of that was getting the app itself to work well, and find the best way for consumers to navigate through menus, as well as switch between immersive VR videos and Hulu’s traditional library content. But Hulu also wanted to be able to launch with enough immersive content to keep people interested beyond the first viewing session. Said Smith: “Novelty is not going to be a pleasing experience over time.”

Hulu isn’t the only video service eyeing VR. Netflix launched an app on the Gear VR last fall, but is currently giving its users access only to its regular catalog on the VR headset. Amazon recently indicated with a job posting that it is also interested in distributing VR content, but hasn’t officially announced its plans yet.

SEE MORE: Hardware Giants Bet Big on Virtual Reality and a Market That Doesn’t Yet Exist

At launch, Hulu’s VR app includes close to 30 360-degree videos from Discovery Communications, Baobab Studios, the National Geographic Channel, RYOT, Showtime Networks, Viacom and others. And while many of those clips may be available else where as well, there are also some exclusives.

Hulu tapped into its existing relationship with RocketJump and longtime YouTube creator Freddie Wong for an exclusive VR short dubbed “The Big One” that was produced in cooperation with Lionsgate, Legend and WEVR. The film lets users be present as a meteor shower descends onto Earth, quickly turning from a visual spectacle into an imminent threat to mankind’s survival.

In addition, the app will also feature some exclusive National Geographic content, and premiere videos from SilVR Thread and Studio Transcendent.

At launch, all of this content will be free to view for users with or without a Hulu Plus subscription. Smith said that the company is still exploring different monetization models. “We are definitely excited about the advertising opportunity,” he said. But with with consumers just starting to buy headsets, it would be early to really think about this as a revenue generator, he argued.

Still, Hulu doesn’t view this as an experiment, said Smith. “It’s something that we believe in.” As such, the company is in the process of building out a VR content roadmap for the rest of the year, and also has plans to bring the app to additional headsets in the future. “We believe in this as a long-term investment,” he said.

More Digital

  • The Frontier

    Conecta Fiction: Project Pitches Prizes Passed Out in Pamplona

    On Wednesday evening the Spanish city of Pamplona was overrun, not by bulls, but by hopeful TV creators who had spent the early week pitching their projects at Conecta Fiction, and who anxiously waited to find out the titles which would take home silverware. Meanwhile, “Monzón,” a Disney-Pampa-Incaa production portraying the tragic violence of Argentine [...]

  • YouTube logo

    Why Splitting Up YouTube Is a Terrible Idea

    Facing mounting pressure over failures to protect children from inappropriate content, Google is reportedly considering a number of changes to its video sharing site YouTube. The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that one of the ideas circulated internally was to effectively split up YouTube, and spin out all children’s content into the existing YouTube Kids [...]

  • Niantic's Harry Potter: Wizards Unite Game

    ‘Harry Potter: Wizards Unite’ to Launch This Week

    “Pokemon Go” maker Niantic is getting ready to launch its next big game: “Harry Potter: Wizards Unite” is set to launch in June 21, the company revealed in a tweet this week. The worldwide launch of Harry Potter: Wizards Unite begins this Friday, June 21! Keep your eyes peeled and wand ready for more information [...]

  • google podcast creator program

    Google, PRX Unveil Second Slate of Their Podcasts Creator Program (EXCLUSIVE)

    Roughly a year after first unveiling its podcasts creator program, Google is renewing its commitment to train budding podcasters. Together with public radio and podcast distributor PRX, Google has chosen 6 podcasters from around the world to participate in the next round of the creator program. The podcasts included in the second cohort are “37 [...]

  • Camila Cabello

    Camila Cabello Reveals Podcast Obsessions, Teases New Album at Cannes Lions

    Camila Cabello was the featured speaker at a Tuesday afternoon panel at Cannes Lions, the annual gathering of marketing, design and entertainment professionals in the south of France. Joined by Spotify chief content officer Dawn Ostroff, the talk, moderated by Variety editor Shirley Halperin, was centered around the theme of the golden age of sound [...]

  • Meg Whitman and Jeffrey Katzenberg

    Quibi Has Already Booked $100 Million in Ad Sales, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman Say

    Quibi, the ambitious short-form video venture from Jeffrey Katzenberg and CEO Meg Whitman, has sold $100 million in upfront ad inventory with six advertisers ahead of its April 2020 debut. Advertisers that have committed ad spending to Quibi include Google, Procter & Gamble, PepsiCo, Walmart, Progressive and AB InBev, according to the company. The $100 [...]

  • China's iQIYI Signs Content, Channel Pact

    China's iQIYI Signs Content, Channel Pact With Malaysia's Astro

    Astro Malaysia, Malaysia’s leading pay-TV operator, has struck a strategic agreement with Chinese streaming platform iQIYI. Astro obtains the exclusive rights to deliver iQIYI content on TV, on-demand and via OTT in Malaysia. It will launch the first iQIYI-branded channel comprising iQIYI’s extensive slate of original content from drama to variety shows and movies. Astro [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content