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What's the Reality of VR Video?

Alan Breznick

Virtual reality video is not just virtually upon us, it's a reality.

To cite probably the most prominent example, NBC just wrapped up about 55 hours of live VR coverage of the Winter Olympics from South Korea last month, showing 18 different events. In addition, NBC, leveraging the same special cameras and production equipment supplied by Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC), offered VR replays of all events that it streamed live earlier in the games.

Similarly, the NBA and Turner Sports, once again using Intel's TrueVR platform, have just started producing weekly pro basketball games in VR. The effort tipped off with the broadcast of the NBA All-Star Game from Los Angeles last month. (See Intel to Power NBA's VR Coverage.)

At the same time, other major service and content providers like Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), Discovery Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: DISCA, DISCB, DISCK), British Sky Broadcasting Group plc , Viacom Inc. (NYSE: VIA), MLB and the NHL are all either gearing up to deliver VR video to viewers or have already started doing so. And more TV programmers and distributors are expected to follow. (See Verizon Demos 50-Meg VR App Over 5G.)

Content providers, broadcasters, pay-TV providers, OTT providers and other video players are excited about delivering such immersive, 360-degree video experiences to TV viewers because they see a host of promising VR applications, especially in the sports, travel, nature and gaming categories. As a result, many are now toying with this new medium, seeking to find the right formula for success. They're tinkering with special cameras and camera angles, trying out VR apps, testing various use cases, exploring content concepts and seeing what will appeal to consumers.

But, for all their progress, these VR pioneers still face serious hurdles as they seek to turn the new medium into a mainstream reality. These hurdles include the heavy bandwidth toll that VR takes on today's already strained video delivery networks, the high-efficiency encoding required to deliver top-quality VR images and the extremely low-latency requirements for delivering truly immersive experiences in all their glory. As a result, VR-ready video remains a pipe dream for most providers. (See CTA Bullish on AR/VR, but Challenges Remain.)

What are the short-term and long-term prospects for video-ready VR? Can the technology's potential be realized and, if so, how quickly? In a special Light Reading breakfast forum at next month's NAB Show -- run in tandem with the Streaming Video Alliance and the VRIF -- tech experts from across the video spectrum will tackle the state of VR video, explore its opportunities and challenges and chart a path forward for the new medium.

Want to learn more the state of VR video, technology opportunities and challenges? Register today for Light Reading’s The Reality of VR Video Breakfast at the NAB Show on April 9 in Las Vegas. We will explore the technology's opportunities and challenges and chart a path forward. The event is FREE for all NAB attendees – don't miss out!

Our featured speakers will include: Dirk Van Dall, VP of Multimedia Technology at BAMTECH Media; T.J. Vitolo, director of product management at Verizon; Alon Maor, co-founder & CEO of Qwilt; Jason Thibeault, executive director of the Streaming Video Alliance; and Rob Koenen, president of VRIF. We're also expecting the NBA to participate.

So please join us Monday, April 9th at the Las Vegas Convention Center for this event, which is free to all NAB Show attendees. Sign up here now to register for the breakfast forum. We'll keep the coffee warm and, of course, make sure the bacon is sizzling for you.

— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading

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