UK VR gets legs
UK broadcaster Channel 4 has picked up a minority stake in recently launched virtual reality outfit Parable. The firm has already produced 360° documentaries for The Economist together with Blancpain and says it is in advanced talks with a number of major broadcasters for upcoming projects for this year.
“We’ve been watching the VR and AR markets with interest as they move away from their Silicon Valley roots and increasingly attract the attention of media owners and brands,” says David Abraham, chief executive at C4. “Parable are storytellers first and foremost and present a great opportunity… to break into this exciting new sector.”
The investment was made through the £20 million Indie Growth Fund which C4 rolled out in 2014 to finance UK-based small- and medium-sized independent production companies. Channel 4’s funding in any one company does not exceed 24.9% and investments have now been made in 13 businesses.
Also in the UK, Amsterdam-based VR firm Jaunt has opened a London office where it says it sees opportunities for partnerships and growing demand for immersive content. Jaunt, which is backed by China Media Capital, Evolution Media and Walt Disney, develops hardware, tools and apps to enable cinematic VR, and recently allied with Premier League football club Manchester City to launch a 360° cinematic virtual reality fan experience at the Etihad Stadium.
The immersive video platform aims to capture matchday experiences and provide exclusive access to the players’ changing room as well as a first-hand look as the players arrive on the Blue Carpet.
“As our fan base continues to grow, both within the UK and globally, we want all of our fans to get a taste for what it’s like to be at the Etihad Stadium – from cheering in the stands and watching players line up in the tunnel to welcoming the team off the bus and standing side-by-side with the stewards ensuring the crowd’s safety,” says Diego Gigliani, svp of media and innovation for City Football Group.