In what may be a fascinating sign of things to come from the UK pay-TV leader, Sky has upped its investment in cinematic virtual reality firm Jaunt.
Silicon Valley-based Jaunt claims to leads its industry with what it calls an 'unrivalled' end-to-end solution for creating and distributing premium live action VR. The content can be played on a variety of devices, including smartphones, as well as VR goggles like Facebook's Oculus Rift. The technology delivers an immersive experience, enabling viewers to enjoy a 360° stereoscopic view, where audiences are placed – literally – at the centre of the action.
With its added $900,000 in this round of funding, Sky has now taken its total investment to $1.65 million since 2013.
Since the pay-TV company's initial investment, Jaunt has tested its technology on a number of Sky original productions including Critical, Penny Dreadful, Trollied, Fortitude and Got to Dance, as well as sports including boxing and motor racing. Sky has also worked with Jaunt and Warner Bros to create cinematic VR clips from The Hobbit set and red carpet London premiere in 2014. Over the next 12 months, Sky will work with Jaunt to film more original virtual reality content.
The additional funding for Jaunt is part of Sky's ongoing programme of investing in start-ups that is designed to boost its core products and services. The new funding follows other investments in Whistle Sports, online video aggregator Pluto.TV and US ad tech firm Sharethrough. "The [VR] market is developing lightning fast so it is brilliant for us to be hand in glove with the team right at the cutting edge," commented Sky's director of entertainment Stuart Murphy. "It's been amazing working with them over the last two years as we begin to see the technology take off. We are developing some exciting plans for how we can create some amazing viewing experiences for Sky customers."
Added Jaunt CEO and co-founder Jens Christensen: "With the support of world class partners like Sky, this latest round of funding will allow us to advance the scope of cinematic VR for filmmakers, storytellers and audiences alike. We will build on our leadership position to deliver amazing VR experiences using best-in-class tools, technology and creative teams."