NAB: Virtual Reality to Shape New Awards Viewing Experience

Chris Pratt - H 2015
AP Images/Invision

Chris Pratt - H 2015

Millions could be in the audience at the Golden Globes and other impossible-to-get-into events thanks to emerging virtual reality goggles, Mandalay Entertainment CEO Peter Guber asserted during his keynote, Monday at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Show in Las Vegas.

Audiences will be “participants, not passengers” in this brave new world of entertainment where emotion will draw viewers, he said. “This will no longer be in the control of the director or cameraman,” he said. “But you will have the best seat in the house. And you will be in charge. You put on the [VR goggles] and suddenly you are there. You turn your head, and there’s Michael Douglas.

“This will allow millions to attend [these events],” he continued, adding that in Vegas, that means “Ca-ching. Ca-ching. Ca-ching.”

He noted that mobile phones currently provide the path to VR, when combined with devices such as Samsung Gear or Google Cardboard. And he added that this also allows audiences to talk with friends while viewing for a social component.

“It will become lighter and easier to use,” he said, adding that VR can also be used as a transaction business. For shopping, he suggested that “Macy’s could become a set or live stage. And this is only the beginning. This will be an important play in every sector.”

Also during the opening session, NAB president and CEO Gordon Smith delivered his annual address on the state of the broadcast industry, focusing on the “exciting and daunting” prospects of the spectrum auction following the one that concluded earlier this year. “Many broadcasters have begun to look more seriously at the possibility of participating in the upcoming incentive auction,” he reported, warning that this participation is contingent on the FCC “getting the auction rules right” and “staying out of the way.”

Asserted Smith: “The FCC must simplify its rules and stay out of the price-determining business, and instead allow the market to determine the price of each 6 MHz channel.”

He added that if successful, “the auction will leave the industry with 80 percent of its full power stations, but only 60 percent of our current spectrum. … By going to next gen, broadcasting would be playing both defense and offense. Defensively, we would protect our ability to easily integrate with existing partners. Offensively, it would give us the flexibility to choose and pursue the promise of ultra HD, targeted advertising, datacasting, mobility and enhanced multicasting on a shared channel. Next gen allows us to do more with less.”

Smith also presented the NAB distinguished service award to iconic entertainer Jerry Lewis, who received a lengthy standing ovation. “If it wasn’t for you, a lot of kids would be suffering worse,” he told the broadcasters, with a nod to his telethons. “It’s an exceptional feeling to be [recognized] for doing what your heart says.”