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Video: When Will VR Entertainment Deliver ROI?
SkyVR's Bruce Courtney, Neulion's Jim Clements, and Nokia's Devon Copley debate the challenges VR content creators face in creating quality VR content that leverages the medium's strengths and delivers a profitable return within a limited market.

Watch the full panel discussion from Streaming Media West, The Reality of VR Video, on the Streaming Media Conference Video Portal.

Read the complete transcript of this clip:

Bruce Courtney: One of the analogies I use all the time for people is at the beginning of television when we got into that new format, what we did is we took TV cameras, and we pointed them at radio dramas, right? And that's what we're doing in VR right now. That's literally the spot that we're in, is that people are still figuring out what VR is.

We're still just taking what we did in flat video and trying to pull that into VR, and unfortunately in a lot of cases, the writing is still the same even though it can't be. And the real difference is that traditional video, movies, TV, all of it, is a third-person passive experience.

Virtual reality is a first-person active experience, and so the writing and the experience for that is completely different. The industry is still figuring that out. We're still training and teaching people how to even think about VR in the right way to even be able to create good VR.

Jim Clements: Because there's a limited audience ... And that's driven by the cost of the device and as well as cost of production and the cost of delivery, we're still and it's still in its infancy. We're not to the tipping point where it's for mass consumption yet. So how do you make money today is you've got to produce something that is adventurous to a certain core group that's willing to pay for it.

We could run down a list of different niche categories, genres of either entertainment or sports that might be a fit, but at the end of the day, if consumers aren't willing to pay for it ... And would they be willing to pay for something if the quality isn't good, if the content isn't good?

There's all these things that play a role, and they all sort of have to align, and it just isn't to that point yet. Is it going to get there? Absolutely. Did it even have to be consumer-facing? There's a lot of business applications that are probably more appropriate for VR and for augmented reality and for VAR than even for just entertainment or consumer purposes.

Devon Copley: What I think is starting to happen and will continue to happen more and more is that we will see VR productions pencil out on their own basis. And you can imagine what that might look like. If you think about UFC, for example, you can easily imagine fight sports, live events that a certain tier with a certain target demographic, making back the investment it takes and well more than that, even today based on the existing ... But that's a pretty thin slice right now.

It's going to take time for there to be larger audiences. Then it sort of flywheel spins up. There's more quality, there's more audience, more of those productions pencil out. There's more content, and you know on and on. But it's going to be a process that's going to take years. Business applications pencil out now. They pencil out very quickly--business, medical, education, these sorts of things--there's clear ROI, there's good studies. You see a bunch of companies popping up to do these kinds of video productions for training, for employment screening, for all these sorts of things. The ROI's very clear. So that's an obvious way to make money with 360 video today that's particularly relevant for folks here with video platforms that are serving those industries, whether it's education or enterprise.

It's really just the entertainment space where the mass audience isn't there to fund that kind of quality. It's a very different situation for enterprise.

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