Sky TV, Europe’s largest pay TV group by subscribers, is launching Sky VR Studios, a unit dedicated to virtual reality programming. The unit will release its first fully-immersive content on Friday with two films shot at the beginning of the Formula One weekend in Barcelona.
The two “experiences” were produced in conjunction with Formula One management and Williams Martini Racing. They will be made available on the Facebook 360 Video platform and also on the Oculus platform, and viewable on the Samsung Gear VR and Oculus Rift headsets. Sky will be launching a Sky VR app, which will serve as a dedicated distribution platform for future VR content.
Over the coming year, Sky VR Studio will produce more than 20 films, across a range of Sky content — including cultural, news and sporting events. The Sky VR Studio team is led by exec producer Neil Graham, and includes VR director Richard Nockles, who directed the Formula One film, and has worked on a number of VR projects for global brands.
This is Sky’s latest foray into the emerging technology. In 2013, it invested in U.S.-based Jaunt, which develops cinematic virtual reality. The Sky News team has also produced “360” videos, including the refugee camp in Calais known as “the jungle”.
In the coming months, Sky VR Studio will create a VR experience around up-and-coming Brit boxer Anthony Joshua’s attempt to win the heavyweight boxing title as well as cycling Team Sky’s Tour de France challenge.
“The Sky VR Studio allows us to add a new dimension to storytelling, taking viewers to extraordinary places and offering a unique perspective on a whole host of events,” said Gary Davey, managing director, content at Sky. “The development of VR technology is moving at an incredible pace and excitement is building about its potential. Our expertise across a wide range of video content, from original drama to live sport, gives us a unique ability to bring VR to life for customers. This is just the start and we’re looking forward to creating more amazing VR content and exploring the possibilities with our tech and content partners.”