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Hulu to Stream Virtual Reality News and Comedy Shows From RYOT Studios (EXCLUSIVE)

Hulu is getting two new exclusive series made for virtual reality (VR), courtesy of the Huffington Post’s RYOT Studios: Come this fall, Hulu’s VR app is going to feature a news program called “The Big Picture: News in Virtual Reality” as well as new VR comedy show called “Virtually Mike and Nora” starring Nora Kirkpatrick and Mike O’Brien.

Hulu has committed to five episodes of “Virtually Mike and Nora,” as well as ten episodes of “The Big Picture: News in Virtual Reality.” The shows are exclusive to the platform, and RYOT co-founder Bryn Mooser told Variety that there are no plans to present the footage as 360-degree videos on the web. “This is a news show that’s really built to the VR headset,” he said. “It’s truly the first of its kind.”

“Virtually Mike and Nora” aims to make the viewer part of the show, said Kirkpatrick, who is known for her parts in “The Office” and “Greek”. “That changed the shape of our jokes and direction of our stories,” she said. “I think we’ve come up with a way to break down the wall between performer and audience member, and explore comedy in 360 degrees.”

RYOT Studios has been producing VR programming for partners like the AP and the New York Times as well as Huffington Post’s own 360-degree video initiative in the past. “We’ve been shooting VR for a long time now,” Mooser said. “Doing a series has always been a dream.”

New episodes of the news program will be published on Hulu’s VR app every two weeks, and each episode will feature three different news segments, said Mooser, who is also acting as the host of the show.

“We think really hard what stories lend themselves to virtual reality,” he said. Videos that can convey a sense of scale or scope are especially suited for VR, he explained. For example, one of the first episodes will feature a report about a the vast Dadaab refugee camp in Northern Kenya.

Hulu first introduced its VR app for Samsung’s Gear VR in March, and has since also brought it to the Oculus Rift VR headset, with plans to launch on additional devices soon. Noah Heller, VP of Emerging Technology at Hulu, said that VR is still very much an experiment for the video service. “We want to understand what works,” he said.

But with Hulu’s legacy, it was clear early on that those experiments would also include serialized content. “To us, it’s really important to build a repeat audience,” Heller said.

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