Netflix goes slow on virtual reality
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Netflix goes slow on virtual reality

Back in 2015, Netflix was the first Streaming Video on Demand (SVOD) platform to adopt virtual reality (VR). The concept was simple: an app that transported users into a 360-degree-realised virtual room, where they could watch movies or TV shows on a (recreated) state of the art home cinema system. However, since 2016, when it pushed the app onto Google’s Daydream headset, the company has put the brakes on its VR ambitions. But why?

Netflix’s share price has risen by an incredible 126% over the last 12 months

graph 1203 netflix

SOURCE: Yahoo Finance

The answer is fairly straightforward – and pretty sensible, really. According to the Netflix, VR is better suited to video games than movies and TV shows. The company’s rational is that its users want to engage with content in a fairly traditional manner – they want to “lean back” and relax.

That’s very different from gamers, who are right in the action, and value the immersive experience. From a common sense perspective, why would you want to be “in” a world you can’t alter or interact with? TV and films are about viewing, not doing.

That’s why, in the words of Greg Peters, Netflix’s chief product officer: "Netflix is only focused on seeing how VR systems evolve at the moment.” Peters pointed to NBC’s recent VR stream of the 2018 Winter Olympics. It was a tedious event, hampered by technological limitations and a lack of clear purpose. Netflix, it seems, won’t be rushing to make the same mistake.

Disclosure

Dominion holds Netflix in its Global Trends Ecommerce Fund.


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