Sky to invest aggressively in virtual reality content

18 Mar 2016

Sky is installing VR cameras on Formula 1 racing cars as part of a major push towards VR content

Satellite broadcaster and broadband player Sky has created Sky VR Studio, a new production unit that will create products and services to turn sports, movies, news and entertainment into virtual reality experiences.

The first pieces of fully immersive VR content include two unprecedented films shot during Formula 1 testing in Barcelona, which will transport viewers to the pit lane, into the team garages, and out onto the track.

The two F1 VR experiences, which were produced in conjunction with Formula One Management and the Williams team, will be made available via the Facebook 360 Video platform.

‘The Sky VR Studio allows us to add a new dimension to storytelling, taking viewers to extraordinary places and offering a unique perspective on a whole host of events’

The full VR experience will also be available on the Oculus platform, and viewable on the Samsung Gear VR and Oculus Rift headsets.

Later in the year, Sky will look to distribute content through a dedicated Sky VR app.

Transforming entertainment through VR


Close up of VR cameras being installed in Formula 1 cars

Sky said that, over the coming year, Sky VR Studio will create cinematic, fully-immersive VR content, including 20 individual films from major sports and cultural events, including the Tour de France and going inside the ring as Anthony Joshua bids for a world title.

“The Sky VR Studio allows us to add a new dimension to storytelling, taking viewers to extraordinary places and offering a unique perspective on a whole host of events,” said Gary Davey, managing director of content at Sky.

“The development of VR technology is moving at an incredible pace and excitement is building about its potential. Our expertise across a wide range of video content, from original drama to live sport, gives us a unique ability to bring VR to life for customers. This is just the start, and we’re looking forward to creating more amazing VR content and exploring the possibilities with our tech and content partners.”

The Sky VR Studios team, which is led by executive producer Neil Graham, includes production staff with rare and valuable experience in VR filmmaking. It will be bolstered with the addition of award-winning VR director Richard Nockles, who directed Sky VR Studio’s F1 film, and who is behind a wide range of VR projects for a number of global brands.

The move is the latest in a series of moves Sky has made in VR in recent years. In 2013, Sky invested in Jaunt, a US VR company.

Recently the Sky News team has produced 360° videos taking viewers to the centre of the migrant crisis on the Greek island of Lesbos, and Sky Movies also trialled the technology at the recent premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, giving viewers a unique view of the red carpet.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years