TBS has been working with YouTube personality Olan Rogers on bringing their new animated show “Final Space” to virtual reality. The network is the process of producing a virtual reality (VR) pilot for what could ultimately become a “Final Space” VR series, revealed TBS/TNT chief marketing officer Michael Engelman during a recent conversation with Variety.
TBS also just released an augmented reality (AR) app for “Final Space,” and is exploring ways to use AR & VR not just as marketing vehicles, but to actually generate revenue as well. “AR and VR are super exciting,” he said.
One reason that “Final Space” is getting the AR & VR treatment is Rogers’ existing online fan base. “His brand is built on the internet,” Engelman said. “This is absolutely the kind of property to experiment with.”
As part of those experiments, TBS premiered “Final Space” on the front page of Reddit in February. This month, it followed up with an AR app that gives fans the ability to invite Gary, Mooncake, and other characters from the show into their living rooms. The app premiered on iOS first, and is scheduled to come to Android phones in the coming days. Users will get access to new content every week after the show’s latest episode airs.
Engelman revealed that TBS and TNT have long spent between 5% and 10% of a show’s marketing budget on speculative bets, including new technologies like AR and VR. That’s partially to engage with viewers in new ways. “It’s more about creating community rather than advertisement,” he said.
But ultimately, the networks are also exploring ways to monetize AR, VR, and mobile games more directly. One approach is to bring advertisers along and have them sponsor apps and games, but Engelman said the company was also exploring other monetization models: “We are looking at all of it.”
He cautioned that TBS and TNT were still very much learning the ropes in this space. “We are in the early days experimental stage,” Engelman said. “This is a new process which requires new muscle memory.”
As for the “Final Space” VR pilot, there’s no word yet on if and when audiences will get to see it, or whether it will actually turn into a full-blown VR series. “You launch when it’s right and ready,” Engelman added.