Providers of live, linear, and VOD content strive to engage viewers on all of the most popular screens - and there will soon be two new device types to add to the must-reach list. Virtual reality (VR) devices like Samsung Gear VR, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Playstation VR, and Google Cardboard will be added first. A little further out, augmented reality (AR) devices like Microsoft HoloLens and Meta 2 will also belong on the list.
Capitalizing on Viewers’ Hunger for Virtual and Augmented Reality
Capitalizing on Viewers’ Hunger for Virtual and Augmented Reality White Paper
Capitalizing on Viewers’ Hunger
for Virtual and Augmented Reality
A white paper for multiscreen providers of TV, movies, and entertainment content
Table of contents
1: Are you ready to
reach viewers in
virtual reality (VR)
and augmented reality
2: The newest viewing
experiences in a
2: Growth trajectory
for shipments of
3: Visualizing VR and AR
4: Considering the
of VR and AR
5: Six ways to engage
users with immersive
VR and AR viewing
10: The evolving VR and
AR device landscape
11: Pros and cons of
PC, console, and
11: Pros and cons of
12: Investing in end-to-
end video delivery to
VR and AR devices
and 360° VR video
13: Pursuing the
best strategy for
now and in
13: About Adobe
Are you ready to reach viewers in virtual reality (VR)
and augmented reality (AR) environments?
VR and AR devices hitting the market over the next 10 years will make it possible for millions of people to enjoy
experiences that were once relegated to science fiction, the imagination, and small-scale tinkering. Naturally, the
people who buy these devices are also going to want some killer apps, including apps for video viewing. If you’re a
multiscreen provider of TV, movies, or entertainment content, that’s an opportunity worth investigating.
Specifically, the opportunity is to reach VR and AR devices with a viewing experience that exceeds expectations.
This white paper puts this opportunity into context by helping you to:
• Project the uptake of VR and AR devices
• Visualize VR and AR
• Consider how VR and AR may converge in the future
• Explore ways to delight users with VR and AR
• Understand the evolving VR and
AR device landscape
• Learn about the investments Adobe is making
to enable end-to-end video delivery in VR
and AR environments
Overall, this information will help multiscreen content providers take a strategic approach to reaching audiences on
VR and AR devices.
“Being able to do anything, experience anything, be anyone. What would be a
better entertainment technology than perfect virtual reality? There isn’t any.”
— Palmer Luckey, founder of Oculus, in an interview with Vanity Fair1
2Capitalizing on Viewers’ Hunger for Virtual and Augmented Reality White Paper
The newest viewing experiences in a multiscreen world
This year, a gale of immersive, connected devices with enhanced viewing capabilities will find their way into
homes and offices around the world. They mostly include virtual reality (VR) devices capable of replacing what
the user sees in real life with something else entirely. Toward the end of the year, they may also begin to include
augmented reality (AR) devices that enhance what the user sees in real life with informational overlays and
While VR and AR experiences have existed for a long time, what’s different now is affordability, availability, and
overall quality and comfort. The latest devices immerse viewers more deeply into the sights, sounds, and motions of
virtual or augmented experiences. As a result, when viewers put on a VR or AR headset for the first time, it feels like
something completely new.
Uptake of the latest VR and AR devices has already begun. Deloitte’s most recent Digital Democracy Survey found
that 4% of US consumers surveyed already own a VR device. Assuming these respondents are a representative
sample, this could mean that over 9 million US consumers already own a VR device.2
The numbers will only get bigger with more VR and AR devices hitting the market, and the quality of the devices
and the level of immersion that they support will improve over time. Furthermore, as prices decline, more devices
will reach a mass market.
Growth trajectory for shipments of immersive devices
WILL PURCHASE BETWEEN
50 AND 300
ANNUALLY BY 2025
Analysts are predicting that hundreds of millions of
consumers will own an immersive, connected device
The Diffusion Group, a boutique market research and
strategy consulting firm focused exclusively on the
future of TV, predicts that VR will have a global user
base of more than 275 million by 2025. In the United
States, it predicts that VR shipments will grow from
less than 5 million annually in 2016 to approximately
70 million annually by 2025. It also predicts that these
shipments will impact video viewing behaviors in
US broadband households whereby VR devices
will account for more than 5% of total video
Goldman Sachs offers three different estimates for
VR and AR shipments. For 2025, the investment
bank estimates a delayed uptake scenario of about
50 million annual shipments worldwide, a base case
of about 125 million annual shipments worldwide,
and an accelerated uptake scenario of about
300 million annual shipments worldwide.4
With annual shipments growing to the hundreds of
millions, highly immersive VR and AR experiences will
no longer be a novelty—they’ll be commonplace.
70 MILLION VR DEVICES
ANNUALLY BY 2025.
Source: The Diffusion Group
Source: Goldman Sachs
3Capitalizing on Viewers’ Hunger for Virtual and Augmented Reality White Paper
“Minecraft Windows 10 edition VR gameplay
and first impressions”
By PC Gamer
“HoloLens Minecraft Demo -
E3 2015 Microsoft Press Conference”
For the purposes of this paper, the VR and AR experiences being discussed are the ones that take place inside
a VR or AR headset. The best way to visualize these experiences is by actually using a VR or AR headset. For readers
who don’t have these headsets yet, it will be a challenge for you to imagine what it’s like. Even using video, these
experiences are difficult to convey, and static pictures are even more limiting.
The experiences inside VR headsets replace what the user sees in real life with something else entirely, such
as an immersive video, game, or other software application. For example, the Google Cardboard demo app
includes an interactive animation called Arctic Journey, and over 30 games have already launched for Oculus Rift
including Eve Valkyrie.
“Google I/O Cardboard Demo”
“EVE: Valkyrie on Oculus Rift VR Playtest!”
Visualizing VR and AR
The latest VR and AR devices leverage advancements in nearly every area of computing, including memory,
graphics, processing, audio, cameras, and motion sensors. Seeing them all come together in VR and AR devices that
an average person can afford is both astounding and magnificent.
4Capitalizing on Viewers’ Hunger for Virtual and Augmented Reality White Paper
As these examples demonstrate, the main difference between VR and AR headsets is that VR headsets block out
the real world while AR headsets augment the real world. When a VR headset blocks out the real world, it replaces it
with a simulated environment and completely immerses users in a virtual space. As a result, VR experiences can
transport users anywhere, to experience anything. Augmented reality, on the other hand, lets users bring virtual
objects and characters into the real world, or overlay information on top of real-world objects. Users still see the
world around them, but it’s augmented with 3D models, virtual computer screens, windows, and more. In the future,
the two technologies may not always be so distinct.
Source: Clay Bavor on Twitter, March 1, 2016.
In contrast to experiences with VR headsets, experiences with AR headsets involve enhancing what the user sees
in real life with “holographic” objects and interfaces. AR experiences can include things like browsing floating
interfaces, watching video on “holographic” screens, examining 3D objects, and more.
“Microsoft Hololens Explained! - The Future of Computing”
“Magic Leap Demo”
By Magic Leap
“Meta 2 is Making Augmented a Reality”
Considering the possible
convergence of VR and AR
VR and AR will certainly converge in the future. It’s
possible that AR will advance to the point where it can
not only brighten real life with “holograms,” but also
darken and block out elements of the real world. This
would allow AR to simulate VR, which would be one
method of convergence. It’s also possible that VR could
use cameras to bring the real world into VR environments.
This would allow VR to simulate AR, which would be
another method of convergence.
It may be 5 years or more before VR and AR converge.
When convergence happens, it will allow consumers to
enjoy a wider range of immersive experiences with a
Clay Bavor ›
5Capitalizing on Viewers’ Hunger for Virtual and Augmented Reality White Paper
Six ways to engage users with immersive VR and AR viewing experiences
There are at least six ways for multiscreen content providers to engage users with VR and AR viewing experiences.
Some can be pursued now while others may not be practical to pursue for another several years. Here, we examine
the options starting with what’s the most immediately practical.
1. Virtual cinema experiences in VR
One way for multiscreen content providers to bring their existing content library to the latest VR devices is by
providing a virtual cinema experience. This would require providing a new virtual cinema app or adding VR cinema
functionality to an existing app in such a way that the user feels as though he or she is in a 3D theater with a massive
screen. On the massive screen, each user could navigate through 2D or 3D shows and movies, choose the one that
they are interested in, and watch it.
For the multiscreen content provider, virtual cinema in VR offers a number of advantages:
• It’s the right time to deploy. Content providers
entering the market now won’t be too early or too
late to the game.
• It captures the full attention of the viewer, which is
rare in our multiscreen world and a potential boon
to ad sales and ad effectiveness.
• It’s easy to deploy because no new content assets
• It supports gaze tracking, which produces highly
actionable, census-based metrics. These metrics
are hugely important to advertising and analytics
because they enable new insights into what draws
viewers’ eyes to content and advertising.
Perhaps as a result of these advantages, there are already several companies offering virtual cinema experiences. For
example, Samsung’s Gear VR device enables users to watch Oculus Video, Netflix, and Hulu, to name a few. Oculus
Video on Gear VR lets users watch videos from Twitch or Vimeo and purchase or rent movies. Netflix on Gear VR
lets users enjoy the Netflix catalog from a virtual mountain cabin. Hulu on Gear VR provides tiered access to the
Hulu catalog, including some 3D video selections, which users can watch from a number of different configurable
environments. YouTube conveniently lets users watch any video using Google Cardboard, including 180° and 360°
videos. Google reports that 350,000 hours of YouTube videos were watched in VR over the course of 19 months.5
And Facebook reports that Gear VR users have watched over 2 million hours of video on their devices.6
6Capitalizing on Viewers’ Hunger for Virtual and Augmented Reality White Paper
2. Virtual cinema experiences in AR
As consumer adoption of AR devices grows, it will soon become practical for multiscreen content providers to also
deliver virtual cinema experiences in AR. The virtual cinema experience in AR would be slightly different than the
virtual cinema experience in VR because it would augment the physical space that the user is in with a virtual screen
and an accompanying “holographic” virtual environment.
“Oculus Cinema on S6 Gear VR”
By Kayne Hildebrand
“CNET News - Netflix: Now available in virtual reality”
“Gear VR: NETFLIX in VIRTUAL REALITY”
“Gear VR Hulu Review”
“Microsoft imagines the future for NFL fans with HoloLens”
By world news
“A year ago, I had a short list of the top things that I felt Gear VR needed to be
successful. One of them was Netflix. It was very rewarding to be able to do this work
[develop the Netflix app for Oculus] right before Oculus Connect and make it available
to all of our users in such a short timeframe. Plus, I got to watch the entire season of
Daredevil from the comfort of my virtual couch. Because testing, of course.”
— John Carmack, CTO of Oculus, in a post on the Netflix Tech Blog7
7Capitalizing on Viewers’ Hunger for Virtual and Augmented Reality White Paper
“holoportation: virtual D teleportation in real-time
“VR NEWS SHOW - OCULUS SOCIAL ALPHA and
DEAD SECRETon GEAR VR”
3. Virtual cinema experiences with social viewing in AR or VR
Innovations are already underway to make AR and VR experiences more social. These innovations will pave the way
to a more social virtual cinema experience in AR or VR environments. For example, Microsoft Research is working
on a technology they call holoportation, which uses cameras to build a model of a remote person and then
“holographically” display him or her with Microsoft HoloLens. What all this means is that at some point in the future,
a group of friends will be able to holoport themselves to a virtual cinema or sports bar and socialize as if they are
really there. This could also increase the level of discovery around VR and AR content, with notifications between
users to watch what’s playing.
Even with technology as it exists today, users don’t have to be alone in a virtual cinema environment. For example,
Oculus Social lets users choose an avatar and chat with one another over a shared Twitch or Vimeo video.
4. 180° VR video
Once a multiscreen content provider has an audience in VR environments, they can start to deliver video in formats
that take full advantage of the video playback capabilities of VR devices. One such format is 180° VR video. The best
way to visualize 180° VR video is to imagine the user with their head inside of a sphere. 180° VR video takes up the
half of the sphere that’s in front of the user. If the user looks past a 90-degree angle from the center of the 180° VR
video, they’ll just see black or a static environment or image.
8Capitalizing on Viewers’ Hunger for Virtual and Augmented Reality White Paper
180° VR video has two advantages over its fully spherical, 360° VR video counterpart:
5. 360° VR video
Another format that takes even fuller advantage of the video playback capabilities of VR devices is 360° VR video.
It’s like 180° VR video, except that the user can turn in any direction and still see video content.
For the multiscreen content provider, 360° VR video offers a big challenge: it’s extremely bandwidth intensive to
deliver the minimum effective resolution of 4K. With 360° VR video, the user is seeing just a small portion of an
entire sphere of video. This is referred to as the viewport, which is around 90 degrees. So, if the entire sphere has a
4K resolution, the small viewport the user is looking into will have a resolution that is less than the native resolution
of the current generation of VR headsets. To max out this native resolution would require 8K resolution, which is the
approximate equivalent of fitting eight 1080p displays into the user’s viewport. 8K is a massive screen resolution,
and it will take significant technological advancements to reliably deliver 360° VR video to broadband homes at this
resolution. Further complicating matters, the max resolution of future generations of VR headsets could easily reach
16K and could conceivably go as high as 16K per eye, at which point humans can no longer discern individual pixels.
Many exceptional 360° VR video experiences have already reached users, including 360° VR videos from the
Discovery Channel that immerse viewers in nature and an interactive 360° VR video from Fox Innovation Lab
that offers fans of The Martian a chance to visit the surface of Mars as lead character Mark Watney.
1. It allows space behind the scenes for cameras,
lighting, and crew during filming. This makes it
easier to capture 180° VR video while still capturing
the action that matters the most, which is the
action that will appear straight ahead of the viewer.
2. It requires half the bandwidth as 360° VR video to
achieve the same visual quality. In the near term,
this makes streaming high-quality 180° VR video
more accessible to the typical broadband home.
One company that’s delivering VR video to audiences is NextVR, which offers an app for Samsung Gear VR where it
distributes 180° and 360° VR video directly to users. NextVR says on its website that the app features a dedicated
FOX Sports channel, along with NBA and International Champions Cup content and more.8
“I watched an NBA game with NextVR and I can’t go back to normal TV... I sat through
the entire 3D 180-degree broadcast, which proved to be smooth and high enough
quality to follow the action. We’ve seen that the choice to limit the FOV to 180 degrees
is actually a keen decision on NextVR’s part, allowing them to deliver a higher quality
forward-facing experience due to standard household bandwidth.”
—Scott Hayden, Author, in a post on Road to VR9
9Capitalizing on Viewers’ Hunger for Virtual and Augmented Reality White Paper
“Mythbusters: Sharks Everywhere!”
By Discovery VR
The “Mythbusters: Sharks Everywhere!” 360° VR video experience is among the most impressive from the Discovery
Channel. As narrator Adam Savage says in the video, “This is, I think, the best VR experience the Mythbusters team
has shot so far because, well, there’s just sharks everywhere.”10
At Adobe, we’re investing in ways to develop and produce 180° and 360° VR video content by incorporating new
VR capabilities into Adobe Creative Cloud workflows.
6. Volumetric video and light fields
Some VR capabilities remain in the experimental stage, such as volumetric video and light fields, which are different
ways of allowing users to walk around freely within a VR video.
Volumetric video provides a way to fully scan and capture a moving, talking person (or object) so that users can
walk around it. When a user engages with volumetric video, it’s as if they are at the edge of a sphere, looking in at a
main character. The user can walk around the character and no matter if they look at it from left or right, up or down,
or even tilt their head, the character is accurately portrayed.
Light fields are like volumetric video in that the objects users see with it are 3D and accurately portrayed from any
direction or angle. The difference is that light fields orient the user’s perspective to the center of the experience; it’s
like the user is in the center of a sphere, looking out. From this perspective, the user can walk all around inside the
sphere and still have the 3D objects that are projected around them look real.
Volumetric video and light fields will take some time to enter the mainstream because the bandwidth needs are
dramatically higher even than 360° VR video. As a result, the first mainstream implementations will likely be still
photography, not video. New technical standards and bandwidth advances will have to be developed in order for
video implementations to go mainstream.
Capitalizing on Viewers’ Hunger for Virtual and Augmented Reality White Paper 10
The evolving VR and AR device landscape
At the moment, there are three kinds of VR devices and one kind of AR device poised to reach consumers in 2016.
The three kinds of VR devices include VR headsets tethered to PCs (PC VR), VR headsets tethered to game consoles
(console VR), and mobile VR headsets (mobile VR). In the near term, mobile VR will represent the largest number of
VR users with Google Cardboard in a leadership position by volume. It has shipped 5 million cardboard viewers as of
January 2016, according to the Official Google Blog.5
However, it’s the tethered VR devices that will lead the market
in terms of quality, levels of immersion, and average time spent per user. For example, the latest tethered
experiences can track head location, which allows more freedom of movement and prevents motion sickness, a not
uncommon occurrence with mobile VR. (Mobile VR currently only tracks head rotation, which isn’t enough to
prevent motion sickness for all users.) Taking all these factors into consideration, tethered VR devices will reach a
smaller number of users with a higher quality of experience that costs slightly more. In the near term, satisfaction
levels with tethered VR experiences will be higher than with mobile VR experiences and are important bellwethers,
regardless of volume, because they showcase what will be possible with mobile VR in a few years.
Samsung Gear VR
VR Hardware Categories
11Capitalizing on Viewers’ Hunger for Virtual and Augmented Reality White Paper
Pros and cons of PC, console, and mobile VR
The following chart provides a quick summary of the pros and cons of the three different kinds of VR devices.
Kind of VR device Pros Cons
Samsung Gear VR
Good for short-form viewing
Untethered, which makes for portable experiences, such
as watching shows and movies on an airline flight
Lower quality experience
Limitations in head location tracking can cause
The lowest end experiences could deter
users from VR
Prevents users from getting motion sickness with
head location tracking capabilities, low latency,
and high frame rates
Approaches the quality of the PC VR experience at a
Perfect entry point to VR for console gamers
Tethered, which limits usage to a fixed location
More expensive than mobile VR
Lower volume than mobile VR
Closed ecosystem of app developers and
Prevents users from getting motion sickness with head
location tracking capabilities, low latency, and high
Uses the PC’s massive computing and graphics processing
capabilities to enable the highest levels of immersion and
best quality of experience
Demonstrates what could be possible on mobile VR
in the future
Tethered, which limits usage to a fixed location
More expensive than mobile VR and console VR
Requires a high-end PC
Lower volume of shipments than mobile VR
Kind of AR device Pros Cons
Augments reality without being tethered to a PC or
console, which makes mobile AR devices potentially as
portable and useful as smartphones.
Capable of object recognition, whereby users can
automatically receive information about objects and
people in the real world in their field of view.
The most expensive category among all the
immersive device types.
Available only as developer kits as of March 2016,
with no announcements as of yet for a
Limited by machine vision and 3D sensing
technology challenges that are yet to be solved, such
as registration capabilities whereby “holographic”
objects need to be able to lock to the real world so
they don’t keep moving as the user walks around.
Incapable of darkening so that “holograms” can only
be projected by the addition of light. This makes it
so that black objects can’t be projected in an
Pros and cons of mobile AR
The latest AR devices fit in a mobile AR category because they are self-contained devices with onboard computing
capabilities. However, outside of the mobile designation, this category of devices has very little overlap with the
mobile VR category.
Examples of mobile AR devices include Microsoft HoloLens, a yet-to-be-named device by the highly secretive,
well-funded startup Magic Leap, and the Meta 2 by a pioneering augmented reality company in Silicon Valley, Meta.
The following chart provides a quick summary of the pros and cons of this category of devices.
12Capitalizing on Viewers’ Hunger for Virtual and Augmented Reality White Paper
Investing in end-to-end video delivery to VR and AR devices
Adobe is investing in ways to extend its multiscreen TV platform, Adobe Primetime, to manage the end-to-end
delivery of video experiences to VR and AR devices, with playback, DRM, and ad insertion capabilities. Innovations
are focused on providing multiscreen content providers with virtual cinema capabilities and addressing the
challenges involved with delivering and monetizing bandwidth-intensive VR and AR experiences to users at typical
home broadband speeds. Additionally, Adobe is adding VR and AR measurement capabilities into Adobe Analytics
and other Marketing Cloud solutions.
All of these advancements will allow us to continue delivering on our promise of helping media and entertainment
companies provide immersive, engaging experiences from ideation to production and post-production, all the way
through to delivery, playback, protection, monetization, and measurement.
In terms of content protection, providers will benefit from DRM support, which includes two key capabilities. First, it
includes the ability to issue content licenses. Second, it includes player technology that can receive, decode, and
playback protected content on VR devices.
In terms of monetization, Adobe is extending the advertising capabilities that are already working on PCs, tablets,
and smartphones to VR devices. This makes it possible for ad-supported multiscreen content providers to reach VR
audiences without adjusting their business model.
Advertising in virtual reality provides:
• A highly engaging environment where advertisers
can reach audiences in new, innovative, and
• Reach among high-income early adopters
• Longer ad spots that make the transition
from content to ad and back to content a
• Seamless insertion of ads in VR environments and
ability to swap out creatives and formats based
on the viewer
• Advanced metrics including everything from online
video delivery plus gaze tracking data from the
Distributing monetizable 180° and 360° VR video
There are four major challenges to distributing 180° and 360° VR video. First, technology innovations need to take
place that decrease the bandwidth needs of high quality 180° and 360° VR video experiences. As it stands, these
experiences consume too much bandwidth. Second, VR video content needs to be protected and monetized.
Without this, the business of video delivery won’t work on VR devices. Third, to support monetization through
advertising, technology innovation is needed to enable the insertion of 180° and 360° VR video ads into 180° and
360° VR video content, including the ability to leverage 2D ad creative when the more immersive formats aren’t
available. Fourth, there is work to be done to make transitions from one type of immersive content to another a
comfortable experience for the user. Adobe is working to solve all of these problems for Adobe Primetime
customers. Customers can expect Adobe to:
• Pioneer ways to deliver a significantly higher image
quality for 180° and 360° VR video at a given bitrate.
• Extend Adobe Primetime’s solution for protecting
and monetizing content across devices to the latest
• Enable ad insertion for virtual cinema, 180° and 360°
VR video content.
• Provide more comfortable ways to transition users
from their VR video content to advertising and back,
regardless of the format of the advertising. These
formats don’t have to be like a mid-roll format
either; they could be virtual product placements,
dynamic billboards in the background, or any other
type of creative sponsorship.