FandangoNow Launches Oculus Store

FandangoNow, the video-on-demand service offered by movie-ticket site Fandango, is launching its movie and TV digital store on Oculus Go and Quest. The new store provides Oculus users with access to FandangoNow’s collection of more than 90,000 new-release and catalog movies and next-day TV shows with no subscription fees.

Hundreds of 3D titles, including Sony Pictures’ Spider-Man: Far From Home, will be available to stream through FandangoNow on the Oculus headset in front of a virtual gigantic screen in the comfort of their own homes.

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“We are constantly looking for innovative ways to deliver high-quality entertainment to movie and TV fans on pioneering platforms,” said Fandango president Paul Yanover. “Our new initiative with Oculus will give fans a new and exciting way to explore, discover and truly immerse themselves in the movies, bringing them to new cinematic worlds they’ve never visited before.”

“We know how much people love experiencing media in VR,” said Oculus head of media Colum Slevin. “The immersive nature of VR along with the extensive catalog of 3D and traditional films coming with FandangoNow is a winning combination.”

FandangoNow is available on Oculus Go, the all-in-one VR headset designed for consuming entertainment, and Oculus Quest, Facebook’s all-in-one gaming headset.

Sling TV Launches on Oculus Go

Sling TV Dec. 17 became the first virtual multichannel video programming distributor (vMVPD) to launch on the wireless virtual reality headset Oculus Go.

The Sling TV experience on Oculus Go is equivalent to watching on a 180-inch television, according to a SlingTV press release.

For a limited time, customers who purchase and activate a new Oculus Go will receive an $80 credit toward Sling TV subscription services (for more info, visit sling.com/oculus).

“No big screen, no room, no problem,” said Jimshade Chaudhari, VP, product management, Sling TV. “Sling TV on Oculus Go gives customers an incredibly large screen, high-resolution experience anywhere they get a WiFi connection, without the need to connect to a phone or PC. Oculus Go is a real game-changer in giving people a personal home theater experience wherever they are, with its crystal-clear optics and portable design.”

Oculus Go users can access Sling TV in the Oculus app store.

Sling TV subscriptions start at $25 per month.

Oculus Go joins more than 17 platforms supported by Sling, including smart televisions, tablets, game consoles, computers, smartphones and streaming devices.

Oculus Go features a fast-switch LCD display that renders at a resolution of 2,560 x 1,440 and the headphone-free, built-in speakers deliver a 3-D, spatial audio experience, according to the release.

Virtual Reality (VR) Headset Shipments Plummet

Virtual reality headsets – video game technology briefly championed as a home entertainment savior – appear to have lost their mojo among consumers.

Global shipments of VR headsets dropped 33.7% in the second quarter of 2018, according to new data from the International Data Corporation (IDCWorldwide Quarterly Augmented and Virtual Reality Headset Tracker.

Tethered VR headsets declined 37.3% as major brands such as Oculus and Sony were unable to maintain consumer demand following price reductions in the previous-year period, according to IDC.

The report said the two brands managed to ship 102,000 and 93,000 headsets respectively in the period. The category leader, HTC, shipped close to 111,000 headsets (excluding the standalone Vive Focus) thanks to the growing popularity of the Viveport subscription service as well as the launch of the Pro headset.

Screenless viewers, which enjoyed initial popularity when Samsung, Alcatel, and Google bundled the headsets with smartphones, has seen consumer interest dwindle. The category has shrunk from 1 million headsets in Q2 2017 to 409,000 units this year. This category was the largest contributor to the decline in shipments for the overall VR headset market.

“One of the major issues with the VR market is that consumers still find it difficult to try a VR headset,” Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst for IDC, said in a statement.

IDC expects this to be a temporary setback as the VR market finds its legs. The arrival of new products, such as the Oculus Go and HTC Vive Pro, and new brands, combined with the need for greater headset fidelity all point to a positive outlook for the quarters ahead.

“This is where the commercial market has an opportunity to shine,” said Ubrani. “HTC’s recent partnership with Dave & Busters or Oculus’ work with schools around the world stand to play an important role in educating and enticing consumers to use VR.”

Indeed, standalone VR headset shipments grew 417.7% in the quarter, largely due to the global availability of the Oculus Go/Xiaomi Mi VR, which managed to ship 212,000 headsets.

While the consumer side of the VR headset market remains the focus of attention, the commercial side is gaining traction. In Q2, roughly 20% of VR headsets were destined for the commercial sector, up from 14% last year. Along with the increase in share, average selling prices have also increased from $333 to $442 during the same period.

“In a market where mainstream VR content is still lacking, a growing number of vendors are looking to commercial as a way to build their business while they wait for the consumers to catch up,” said Tom Mainelli, VP, devices and augmented and virtual reality at IDC. “These vendors are moving beyond entertainment-focused deployments to real-world training scenarios in companies of all sizes, all over the world. IDC expects commercial buyers to represent an increasingly important percentage of the market going forward.”

Oculus Partnering With Chinese Firm to Build, Market VR Headsets

Oculus, the virtual reality device company owned by Facebook, has partnered with Chinese-based Xiaomi to manufacture and market two new smart VR headsets – one exclusively to the Chinese market.

A smart VR headset is described as a standalone, multi-purpose device that is designed to be worn on the face and not carried, runs an operating system, and can run third-party computing applications.

The Oculus Go ($199) will be marketed globally this year, while the Mi VR Standalone headset will be sold in China. Both devices feature Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 821 mobile VR platform.

Mi VR Standalone shares the same hardware and software features and design as Oculus Go, thus enabling existing Oculus developers to bring their content to China.

Facebook, which acquired Oculus in 2014 for $2 billion, has been challenged to see much of return on its investment.

It reportedly sold fewer than 400,000 Oculus Rift units in 2016, which was less than competitors HTC Vive and Sony PlayStation VR.

That said, Canalys forecasts standalone smart VR headset shipments will pass 1.5 million in 2018, reaching 9.7 million units in 2021. Standalone VR headsets are expected to help push the VR headset market to 7.6 million units in 2018, twice the shipments forecast for this year.