360 and VR come together on YouTube

YOUTUBE LOOKS TO COMBINE VIRTUAL REALITY AND LIVE STREAMING: YouTube appears to be exploring bringing together live streaming and virtual reality, otherwise known as 360-degree live video, BuzzFeed news reports.

YouTube has reportedly met with 360-degree camera manufacturers to begin integrating VR live-streaming into its platform. YouTube first launched 360-degree video in March 2015, and added support for Google Cardboard – a smartphone-mounted VR headset – in June 2015. The foray into virtual reality live streaming comes off the back of Google’s announcement last week that early adopters of Google Cardboard had watched over 350,000 hours of VR video on YouTube.

YouTube’s advance towards 360-degree video live streaming marks a concerted effort by Google to keep up with competitors, including Oculus Rift and Microsoft’s HoloLens. In addition, Samsung, PlayStation and HTC all have at least one VR offering either already available or coming in mid 2016.

By pairing VR with live streaming, Google is likely hoping to create a unique content offering. Live streaming is already extremely popular on competitor sites. For example, Amazon-owned Twitch registers 100+ million unique viewers per month, while Snapchat’s Live Stories garners 10-20 million viewers per day, according to Fast Company. These audiences represent a large opportunity to boost-ad revenue. In addition, VR is estimated to grow into somewhere between a $80 to 182 billion industry by 2025, according to a recent report from Goldman Sachs.

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