Virtual Reality Needs ‘Breadth’ to Go Mainstream, Argues VR CEO

The VR industry is on track for its biggest year yet, but it needs more content to meet the audience’s needs

Virtual Reality is having a moment right now.

Headsets are on track for record shipments in 2017. Major Hollywood franchises like “Star Wars,” “Alien” and “Breaking Bad” are releasing VR experiences. And according to a study from PricewaterhouseCoopers, 70 million Americans will have their own headset by 2021.

What it doesn’t have, though, is “breadth” of content. And according to one VR executive, it’s one of the main constraints on the industry.

In an interview with TheWrap, David Cole — CEO and co-founder of NextVR, an Orange County-based VR platform with an expertise in live content — expanded on this challenge.

To build “a destination for content consumption, we need breadth and depth of catalogue to do that,” said Cole.

Right now, VR is like In-N-Out, when it needs to be more like McDonalds. To meet the needs of the expanding market, VR platforms need to have a bevy of entertainment options.

NextVR is working on this. Founded in 2009, the company has the depth part down, with a foundation in live events solidified by partnerships with the NBA, Live Nation, and HBO Boxing. Cole said sports leagues are intrigued by VR because it allows fans across the globe to experience what it’s like to be at a game in-person.

“The NBA doesn’t have an attendance problem — [VR] let’s people attend who cannot get there,” said Cole. “Just think of China — 200-300 million fans who would love to attend a game, so this is an opportunity to reach them.”

Now, NextVR is looking to expand on the breadth challenge. A recent partnership with NBC brings new “World of Dance” content to its app each week, for all the J-Lo fans out there. And Cole hinted NextVR is cooking up original VR content for later this summer.

For the industry to meet the demands of its growing user base, more VR platforms will have to follow suit.