- Samsung debuted six pilot episodes on Monday for series developed specifically for virtual reality (VR). Viewers can experience the immersive shows through the electronic giant's VR video service and the Oculus-powered Gear VR headset that attaches to a Galaxy smartphone, according to a press release.
- The electronics giant's initiative, "Pilot Season," gave grants to six independent filmmakers to produce the original VR shows that span genres of sci-fi and dreams to design. Each filmmaker had the opportunity to use Samsung's 360 Round camera, a high-end gadget that has 17 lenses to shoot 360-degree videos, though only one did.
- This program adds to Samsung's efforts to expand its VR offerings and spark VR integration in the indie film community, per the release.
Samsung's "Pilot Season" is a clear effort to make immersive reality mainstream and give people another reason to test out the company's VR headset that's seen little traction since its 2015 launch. VR has been hyped as the "next big thing" for years, but a combination of pricey equipment and lack of compelling content have hampered adoption among a mass audience. Instead, 360-degree video has grown more popular as a more accessible form of VR because it can be experienced using just a smartphone to peer into a computer-generated environment.
Samsung's latest initiative was previewed during the Tribeca Film Festival in New York and received so-so reviews from viewers who said the content wasn't compelling enough to keep them coming back. Buzz around VR could grow as more creators find interesting ways to integrate bleeding-edge features into their content and as consumers grow more accustomed to immersive entertainment. With Facebook readying the May 1 debut of its Oculus Go headset, competition in the VR space is likely to ramp up among tech giants vying for customers.
As companies like Netflix and Amazon have shown, original content is necessary to give people a reason to pay premium prices for entertainment. Naturally, audiences aren't satisfied with watching re-runs of old shows or movies that are available on TV or digital channels, which is at least partly why streaming services have invested in buzz-worthy original series like "Stranger Things" and "Westworld" to improve the value proposition of the platforms and encourage audiences to stick around for more innovative content.