If you’ve ever imagined yourself in a favorite show, Hulu is one step closer to actually making it happen, but the decision to add the virtual reality viewing option in the spring of 2016 has not paid off as much as Hulu had expected. Whether it is because VR devices are not yet widely enough used, or that people simply prefer 2-dimensional viewing, it hasn’t taken off quite like the streaming business would like.
However, like any observant group of people, they have taken note of the extensive use of social media in their users’ lives and have added that aspect to their multi-brand of VR-compatible application, but the Rooms feature is only for the Oculus Gear and Rift. Essentially, users can meet together in Oculus Rooms, wait and talk between commercials or before or after shows. Not only can users talk, but they can also interact with and see their watching companions’ reactions. This cool feature is made possible through Oculus Avatars, identities personalized by Oculus users from tons of permutations, and there can be up to 8 people in each room.
So, why just Oculus and not Google Daydream, Sony PSVR, or HTC Vive as well? Simply because Oculus introduced the “party” feature first, and when the others develop something similar, Hulu will undoubtedly extend the viewing ability to those platforms, too. The choice seems to be made to aid in VR viewing’s popularity and availability, rather than to create a particular union between Oculus and Hulu, both of which are parts of the path of any growing business. As cool as the virtual reality app is, is it really better than actually physically watching a show together? It seems it’s great for long-distance relationships, groups, and watchers. Strangely, it seems equally social and anti-social to create and use such a feature. Do you think VR Rooms will enhance or detract from the group-watching experience?
– Kelly Gatewood
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