BBC Defies Netflix, Amazon With VR, Voice Control

BBC Defies Netflix, Amazon With VR, Voice Control
July 5, 2017
'We Wait' is an interactive VR project co-produced by BBC Connected Studios


The BBC is turning to virtual reality technology and voice-controlled software to help it fight back against online rivals, director-general Tony Hall has revealed.


He said the corporation would have to “ride two horses” over the next decade by managing its traditional TV and radio stations, while facing “huge competition” online from Amazon and Netflix.


In recent years, the digital giants have both moved into production, making multi-million-pound hit shows including Netflix’s The Crown and House Of Cards.


Announcing the corporation’s annual plan, Lord Hall said the BBC would have to respond with a more “personalised” service that adapted to what viewers wanted.


Among the ideas being examined are producing shorter versions of programmes edited to fit commuting journeys and a cooking show that changes depending on what ingredients viewers have in their kitchen and how good they are at cooking.


      He said voice control was “going to be a key way we interact with media, search for content and find what we want”.


      “Amazon, Apple, Google and others are investing heavily in a voice-controlled future and we’re working hard here, too. Already, we have news and radio services on Amazon Alexa and Google Home and we can all imagine how speaking to our devices — in effect having a conversation with them — might enhance our services and benefit audiences,” he added.


      Lord Hall said staff were working on virtual reality and augmented reality to give viewers “a greater sense of presence that could help them better to understand — and engage with — news and current affairs, science, history, and natural history”.


      He also revealed that the BBC would set up its own VR studio this year and use artificial intelligence to help “personalise” the service.


      He said this would be about “using our powers of curation to serve [viewers] what they might like and they need to know. Bringing them what they love, but also surprising them with content they may grow to love.”

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