SBS just launched a dedicated VR viewer – SBS On Demand VR – on Android and iOS, making it the first Australian broadcaster to do so. The app can be used with Google Cardboard, but also allows you to view content without a headset.
It’s not the first time SBS has dabbled in VR, with the broadcaster taking its first steps capturing last year’s Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Grad parade in 360-degree video and it’s good to see a dedicated home for the content on viewers’ devices.
There’s an undeniably light selection of content available at launch however, with two videos shot at Mardi Gras 2015 and a companion piece for the network’s forthcoming Inside Heston’s World series taking viewers inside Heston Blumenthal’s restaurant “The Fat Duck” during its six month tenure in Melbourne last year.
Content is the most important aspect in a VR app of this type, so while the initial offering is pretty slim there is a commitment to produce more, soon. Hopefully Mardi Gras 2016 content will appear soon, and the second season of the broadcaster’s Untold Australia documentary series as a series of factual VR films exploring the diversity of Australia’s people, culture and lifestyles.
More promising is the news that SBS is exploring opportunities for use of VR in the newsroom, and is undertaking training for its camera operators and editors for production of VR content – this should lead to a significant growth in content for the SBS On Demand VR app as the year progresses, hopefully with the frequency and quality we’ve seen from other broadcasters producing VR content around the world.