WWE is an entertainment company that has lately taken a test run of virtual reality, having launched two virtual reality videos exclusively on Samsung Electronics’ milk VR content service is to offer the fanatics a front-row perch to soak up the grappling action.
The two videos can be accessed on Samsung Gear VR Innovator Edition that is powered by Oculus VR, and also on the upcoming $99 Gear VR consumer headset slated to go on sale in time for Black Friday (Nov 27). WWE together with studio Reel FX has worked together producing the VR segments, shot at its tentpole SummerSlam 2015 event this August at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.
Michelle Wilson, WWE chief revenue and marketing officer, said, “It’s the first step for us into virtual reality world, I don’t know if (VR is) going to be the next big success or not, but we’re going to be platform agnostic — and go where our fans go.”
For Samsung, getting VR content seeded into Milk VR is a linchpin of its consumer lunch.
Matt Apfel, VP of strategy and creative content at Samsung Media Solutions Center America said, “We think it’s strategically important to have premium partners like WWE to dive in here, not only to attract users, but to push innovation and also drive engagement, big names are great to attract audience, but our goal is to make sure their experiences kick ass.”
The other virtual reality partners lined up by Samsung include Discovery Communication, Hulu and Netflix say their apps will be ready to roll for Gear VR. Apfel confirmed that movie studios will be having virtual reality versions of trailers on Milk VR and he also noted that Samsung is working along with Skybound Entertainment to produce an original virtual reality thriller series known as Gone.
WWE’s first virtual reality video is featuring 360-degree highlights from SummerSlam weekend, including the showdown between John Cena and Seth Rollins as well as the surprise appearance by Jon Stewart as the host. Other video outlines the match between Kevin Owens and Finn Balor at NXT TakeOver, the WWE Network special that happened on a night before SummerSlam.
While producing the content, WWE made sure that VR crew at SummerSlam did not interrupt with the live crew for the pay-per-view broadcast. Wilson said they were able to put virtual-reality camera operators onto positions where they were a fly on the wall. The VR camera rigs Reel FX used were rather small, and the bulk of the time, as well as expense, was in post-production editing.
According to Apfel, WWE was a particularly perfect fit for Samsung’s VR content push. The companies not only target audiences, but WWE content also provides both proximity and polish – is shot from ringside vantage points and has high production values.
Apfel said, “For (intellectual property) owners, the strategy is pretty clear: If you think virtual reality is going to take off, you have to have these experiments and experiences to learn and perfect, and then you start to build an audience.”