BBC announces new VR Hub and free VR Spacewalk app

“We’re focusing on a small number of high impact pieces that have broad, mainstream appeal”

The BBC has announced that its various VR ventures are to be all brought under one roof.

The new unit goes by the name of VR Hub. It will oversee its various projects including 360-degree video and VR add-ons to properties such as Planet Earth II.

To coincide with the announcement, the BBC has released a VR Spacewalk experience which allows users to explore the International Space Station, using their hands to pull themselves around the ship in zero gravity. It’s a free download on Steam (for Vive) and Oculus Home (for Rift).

“Today we’re also announcing our next steps in VR, with a studio spearheading our VR production and exploring how VR can create real audience impact,” head of VR content commissioning Zillah Watson said. “We act as a hub internally, working closely with our programme makers and digital experts. And over the coming months we’ll be creating pieces across the range of genres the BBC is famous for.

“Our research shows that for as long as the quantity of high-quality content remains low, and the experience remains cumbersome, mainstream audiences won’t use VR. That’s why we’re focussing on a small number of high impact pieces that have broad, mainstream appeal.

“We want to excite audiences by creating the most enthralling experiences imaginable using the power of VR. So with every commission, we will target a specific set of audience needs and occasions, ensuring that each piece is compelling enough to make people want to put on a headset.

“We believe the BBC can bring a unique perspective to VR. We have an unparalleled position in the lives of the UK population. Every week we reach 95% of the UK population and we have the most trusted broadcast news brand in the world, reaching almost 400m people through the BBC World Service alone.

“We can bring all of this to bear in the creation of VR. Having cracked every new content delivery mechanism since radio in 1922, we are excited about the potential of VR and the ways in which it could enrich the lives of our audiences.”

The BBC’s existing VR efforts include The Turning Forest for Google Daydream and Gear VR.