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What will Netflix VR look like?

Staying on top of the entertainment game is famously difficult. No only are trends forever changing, but so are ways of delivering content to the clamouring masses.

Nowhere is this more visible than in the video industry. We used to get our movies on tapes. Then we got them on DVDs. There was a short BlueRay era. Then we got all our movies digitally, on demand, on Netflix. That created a golden age for series.

But the videos keep getting shorter and have moved to TikTok and Youtube, while countless competitors try to outdo Netflix at its own game. How can the OG streamer stay ahead of the competition as technical and technological evolutions spread? The answer has been brewing for a few years now: Netflix should become a VR platform. Below is the strategic path the company needs to take to execute yet another masterful pivot.

What will Netflix VR look like?

1. Netflix Teams Up with Meta (Or Apple) to deliver VR experiences

Netflix partners with VR headset manufacturers to offer a bundle of subscription and hardware for a discounted price.

Netflix is not a hardware company. To create and solidify its presence in the virtual reality landscape, Netflix must explore partnering with VR headset manufacturers to offer a bundled package of subscription and hardware at a discounted price — a headset AND a yearly Netflix subscription at 20% off? Sign me up!

To implement this idea, Netflix would first need to identify potential VR headset manufacturers that align with its goals and values. Collaborating with an established, widespread, and cheap(er) brand like Meta could provide a solid foundation for a successful partnership. Apple, meanwhile, would be the best choice to promote the adoption of its very expensive Vision… but Apple TV directly competing with Netflix makes that a pipe dream.

Negotiations with manufacturers would involve determining the terms of the bundle, including the duration of the “gifted” subscription (1 year is best) and the hardware specifications (VR or AR?). Netflix could offer a special promotional price or exclusive content access to incentivize customers to opt for the bundled package. Additionally, the company would need to work closely with its chosen partner to ensure seamless integration between the Netflix app and the hardware, delivering an optimal user experience.

While the idea of partnering with the likes of Meta holds great promise, there are potential challenges to consider. One significant obstacle is the fact that The Zuck probably wants to get back into the entertainment game sooner rather than later and be a direct Netflix competitor — though TikTok is both Meta’s and Netflix’s greatest threat right now. Additionally, pricing negotiations and revenue-sharing agreements may pose challenges, as finding a mutually beneficial arrangement can be complex.

Lastly, the adoption rate of VR technology among consumers is still growing, so Netflix would need to carefully assess the market demand and potential return on investment before committing to such partnerships (and investing in VR content).

2. Netflix Expands into Virtual Reality with a Social Movies / Series App

Netflix creates a dedicated VR app that allows users to browse and watch movies and series in a virtual cinema environment, with social features imbedded.

For the partnership mentioned above to be successful, Netflix needs to develop a dedicated VR app. And it will need to be revolutionary to ensure adoption. The best possible option is to allow users to browse and watch films and series within a virtual or augmented cinema environment. This experience should be enhanced with social features for those wishing it, bringing the cinematic experience into the virtual realm.

Creating this app would involve several key steps beyond a simple hardware partnership. The company needs to develop a user-friendly interface that allows seamless navigation within the virtual cinema environment, offering options to browse different movie genres, recommendations, and user-generated playlists. The app should (obviously) leverage Netflix’s vast database of content to provide a diverse range of movie choices.

Lastly, integrating social features would be crucial, enabling users to watch movies together with friends or engage in virtual discussions while enjoying their favorite films and series. Adding comments and fan theories during specific scenes could be fun! One could imagine linking a sub-Reddit to Netflix via an API to enhance the app’s social aspect.

While the idea of a Netflix-branded VR app holds tremendous potential, there are challenges to consider. Firstly, and as previously mentioned, VR technology is still evolving, and the user base might be limited compared to traditional streaming platforms.

Additionally, creating a seamless and comfortable user experience in the virtual cinema environment would require careful attention to VR-specific challenges, such as motion sickness and the need for high-quality graphics.

Moreover, obtaining licensing agreements for VR distribution and potentially creating exclusive VR content could pose legal and logistical hurdles. It would also be expensive, at a time when Netflix wants to concentrate on profitability. Addressing these challenges would be vital for the company to successfully navigate the path towards becoming a more VR-oriented company.

3. Netflix Unveils Exclusive VR Movies to Emphasize Immersion

Netflix produces original VR content that is exclusive to its platform and showcases the immersive potential of the medium.

Once you have the hardware and the app… you need the content. And not just any content. VR content. That’s why Netflix should produce original VR movies exclusively for its platform.

Netflix can begin by collaborating with experienced VR production studios and hiring experienced VR filmmakers (if such a thing exists). Together, they can develop compelling stories that make the most of the medium’s interactive and immersive capabilities. Netflix could leverage its existing relationships and distribution channels to create and promote these VR movies to a global audience.

The adoption of VR movies on a large scale poses several challenges. Many of these were addressed above. An additional one to bring to the growing list is that producing high-quality VR movies requires substantial financial investment and technical expertise. Overcoming these challenges will require Netflix to strike a delicate balance between investing in VR infrastructure, stimulating user adoption of VR devices, and producing compelling content that showcases the medium’s potential, ultimately attracting more viewers to the platform. All the while avoiding cannibalisation with its existing business. Given its most recent financial performances, none of this is a given.

Other options / variants for “VR Netflix”

The above is just a taste of the best path forward for Netflix. Many alternative paths also exists, as do options to further improve the company’s move to VR. Below is a quick run-down of said options, which offer very similar benefits and draw-backs from what was mentioned up to now.

Netflix Enables Seamless Transition from 2D to 3D with VR Mode

Netflix adds a VR mode to its existing app that lets users switch between 2D and 3D viewing options for compatible movies.

Netflix Enhances Popular Films with Virtual Reality Experiences

Netflix collaborates with filmmakers and studios to create VR versions of popular movies that enhance the story and visuals.

Netflix expands offerings with dedicated VR streaming platform.

Netflix launches a VR channel that streams curated VR movies and documentaries from different genres and sources.

Netflix enables user-generated VR movies with new platform.

Netflix develops a VR platform that enables users to create and share their own VR movies using tools and templates provided by Netflix.

Netflix Introduces VR Rental Service for Immersive Movie Experiences

Netflix offers a VR rental service that allows users to rent VR headsets and movies for a limited time and return them by mail.

Netflix hosts immersive VR events and festivals

Netflix hosts VR events and festivals that feature screenings of VR movies and interactive experiences with celebrities and creators.

Netflix enhances user recommendations with VR movie suggestions.

Netflix integrates VR features into its existing recommendation system that suggest VR movies based on user preferences and behavior.
 

In a rapidly evolving entertainment landscape, staying at the forefront of innovation is a challenge that Netflix has consistently tackled head-on. From the era of tapes to digital streaming dominance, Netflix has adapted time and again to changing trends.

The next logical phase of this evolution is the integration of virtual reality technology into its platform. By forming strategic partnerships with VR headset manufacturers and delivering immersive experiences, Netflix could redefine how audiences consume content.

This forward-looking approach hinges on collaboration, user-friendly interfaces, and the creation of exclusive VR content. While hurdles such as VR technology’s growing adoption, technical challenges, and content production costs lie ahead, Netflix’s journey into the realm of VR holds the promise of transforming how we experience entertainment once again.

Through innovative thinking and careful execution, Netflix has the potential to establish itself as a leader in the VR entertainment landscape, ensuring its continued reign as an industry pioneer.

Could luck out there.

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