Business Essentials for Professionals


To Push its Virtual Reality, Web Stars, Hulu being Recruited by Google

To Push its Virtual Reality, Web Stars, Hulu being Recruited by Google
In a part of a plan to line up exclusive content for the debut of its new Daydream service in the coming weeks, Google is investing hundreds of thousands of dollars apiece in virtual-reality films and programs.
Google will fund the production of 360-degree videos with YouTube stars like the Dolan twins and Justine Ezarik and will help promote projects from Hulu LLC. To boost its biggest virtual-reality initiative, the division of Alphabet Inc. has also partnered with video-game producers and sports leagues.
“It’s apparent they’ve spent a lot of money internally,” said Finn Staber, co-founder of The WaveVR, a virtual-reality startup developing a music app for Daydream.
In a manner that is similar to Android is for smartphones, Daydream, a hybrid store and software service that Google hopes will be the dominant way people engage in virtual reality, would be promoted by relying on apps, shorts and games. Daydream would be supported by an update to Android software. The aim is to ensure Google maintains a central role in helping people find things to watch and to encourage the growth of the technology.
With products from Facebook Inc., Sony Corp., Samsung Electronics Co. and HTC Corp, Google is entering what has quickly become a crowded marketplace. Google is focused on mobile-based VR while Sony’s Morpheus headset is tethered to its PlayStation video-game console. Google consumers would be able to snap their phones into a visor or headset. Daydream presents users with an array of apps, from YouTube to HBO Now with the headset on.
“Google’s Daydream will help advance mobile virtual reality. Mobile virtual reality is what’s going to get the most people to strap things on their head,” said Oren Rosenbaum, a digital media agent at United Talent Agency who spearheads its VR effort.
Staber said that mobile will reach mass audiences even as competitors are targeting users willing to spend hundreds of dollars for top-notch VR equipment.
Filmmakers eager for more resources are tantalized by Google’s growing investment in virtual reality. Most large media companies have been circumspect about investing too much money in a new storytelling medium with a small audience even as Facebook has spent millions of dollars on individual projects.
The company doesn’t want to spend too much just yet and is spreading money around to see what works since this is Google’s first major virtual-reality content initiative. Google is offering from low five figures to low six figures for projects with filmmakers and online talent and is spending high six figures on video games, said sources who were quoted by the media.
A 16-camera rig optimized for the company’s Jump software platform for virtual-reality content must be used by filmmakers working with Google. Priced at $15,000, GoPro Inc. is making one called Odyssey. Sources said that dozens of filmmakers have signed up to work with YouTube even though a few elite VR filmmakers have either balked at the budgets or the requirement that they use Google’s camera.
Since the Google division is more interested in encouraging creative people to produce content around the debut of Daydream to stoke awareness and excitement, YouTube won’t demand an ownership stake in the projects filmmakers create with its funds.

Christopher J. Mitchell

Markets | Companies | M&A | Innovation | People | Management | Lifestyle | World | Misc