- The Tribeca Film Festival teamed up with Facebook's Oculus virtual reality (VR) unit to show immersive content as the yearly event moves to a digital format amid the COVID-19 pandemic, per an announcement. AT&T is the presenting sponsor.
- A selection of content is also being moved online in an effort to promote and support creators. This content includes the brand storytelling Tribeca X Awards, which features brand videos from adidas, Adorama, Dior, Dove, Hewlett Packard, Kelly Services, Lime, Procter & Gamble, Red Bull, Square, Synchrony Bank and Volvo Car UK that can be watched on tribecafilm.com.
- The festival's Tribeca Immersive segment this year has 15 VR films for its Cinema360 presentation that people can watch on Oculus TV with Oculus Go and Oculus Quest headsets.
The Tribeca Film Festival's move to digital platforms is a sign of how event organizers are adapting to the constraints of the COVID-19 pandemic, while also working to reach new audiences through VR platforms like Oculus. The implications for mobile marketers include the need for an expanded range of VR content that appeals to a wider audience and helps to boost adoption of the technology, whose strongest foothold is in video games.
As the presenting sponsor, AT&T can use its marketing budget to put itself before a group of consumers seeking entertaining content while the pandemic has them quarantined at home. In recent weeks, marketers including Verizon, Pepsi and Fiat Chrysler have sponsored livestreamed concerts and specials.
Tribeca Film Festival has expanded its Cinema360 immersive programming in the past three years to showcase innovations in VR entertainment. The VR films available this year include genres such as science fiction, horror, romance and comedy, with 10 of the 15 filmmakers premiering at the film festival, which started on April 17 and runs through April 26. As part of the festival, Oculus released a VR animation called "The Key" as an app for its Oculus Rift, Oculus Rift-S and Oculus Quest devices. The award-winning interactive project was developed as part of the Oculus VR for Good program and premiered last year, per the announcement.
The shift to digital and VR platforms follows a similar move by smartphone brand HTC, which last month hosted its annual VIVE conference in a VR format. About 2,000 people from more than 55 countries registered for the event, which featured speakers from across the globe. The event showed how the crisis is helping to spur innovation in virtual communication and collaboration tech.
It's too early to tell how the pandemic will affect demand for VR content in the longer term. More immediately, the crisis is disrupting the supply chain for electronics products including VR headsets and causing a drop in shipments, per an announcement by International Data Corp. (IDC). The researcher forecasts that shipments of VR head-mounted displays (HMDs) will bounce back by the second half of 2020. Standalone HMDs are forecast to boost shipments 30% to 3.1 million this year, while tethered HMDs that connect to a PC or video game console will see a 25% gain to 2.9 million. Demand for the devices is growing as people work from home and need tools to collaborate with colleagues, IDC Research Manager Jitesh Ubrani said in the announcement.