Sky launches Sky VR App
James R | On 04, Oct 2016
Sky has launched its brand new VR app, marking the technology’s increasing presence in our living rooms.
Called, funnily enough, Sky VR, the app was announced earlier this year, as the broadcaster through its significant commercial weight behind the idea of virtual reality content as the future of entertainment.
In a sign of how widespread Sky thinks the appeal of VR can be, it has made the app available for anyone to download for free, showcasing 360-degree videos from Sky, plus content from Sky’s partners including Star Wars: Red Carpet, Anthony Joshua: Becoming World Champion and clips from Disney’s The Jungle Book.
Sky is also releasing two new VR experiences: Sky Sports: Closer, featuring David Beckham, and, coming later this autumn, the first of a series of Sky exclusive commissions: a performance from English National Ballet’s production of Giselle ahead of its forthcoming UK tour.
The Beckham video sees the footballer enter a Sky VR simulator, which takes him and the viewer to visit the world’s best sports events at the touch of a button. The advert was created in-house by the Sky VR Studios, in collaboration with Google.
David Beckham says: “It was great to work with Sky and Google on this film to launch the new Sky Virtual Reality app. The team from the Sky VR studio came up with an incredible concept that shows the range of sport Sky offers. Being able to take other sports fans on a journey into some of the world’s biggest sporting events was a unique opportunity.”
Sky has been building its expertise in VR for a number of years. In 2013, the company invested in Jaunt, a US-based company pioneering cinematic virtual reality and will be sharing some content with their offering. Since then, Sky has been carrying out testing across a range of events including an interview in VR with David Beckham and Kirsty Gallacher, which saw him select his top three Premier League goals.
Sky continues to commit some serious money to the tech: it is commissioning a series of high-end VR experiences, under the Sky VR Exclusives label. Produced both in-house by the Sky VR Studios and with third-party partners, the series will include Sky News – US Elections and Tutankhamun’s Tomb – The Search for Nefertiti.
Gary Davey, Managing Director, Content at Sky, comments: “Interest in VR content is building, generating more excitement every day. We are just at the beginning of our VR journey at Sky, launching Sky VR studios earlier this year and we are already breaking new ground. Now comes the creative challenge of deploying this immersive experience with engaging story-telling. I am a big believer.”
The app is available to download on a compatible mobile from Google Play or the App Store. The app will let anyone watch immersive Virtual Reality content on a Smartphone either in conjunction with a Google Cardboard headset or in 2D (360 degrees) without a headset. The app will also work when using Samsung Gear VR and Oculus Rift. To help those who can’t afford an Oculus Rift headset watch the videos, Sky will be giving away thousands of Google Cardboards to people visiting Sky Backstage at The O2 from 20th October.
Is virtual reality the future of entertainment? Read our hands-on at the Raindance Film Festival’s VR Arcade.