BBC Study on VR Looks At Virtual Cinema and Headset Issues

The BBC has been experimenting with virtual reality (VR) content for a while, now. In order to further investigate VR as a platform for media, the BBC teamed up with Ipsos Connect to conduct a study into how audiences react to VR.

The research covered a three-month period where participants were asked to use a VR headset over that period. The report found that VR users were drawn to particular ‘types’ of content. VR experiences that allowed users to do something that would not normally be available to them, such as skydiving, or something that elicited strong emotions, such as horror videogames or 360-degree films.


Senior Market Analyst for Audiences at the BBC, Tim Fiennes, said that participants in the study enjoyed the lack of outside distractions involved in VR experiences, not just the totally immersive and interactive experiences, but also relatively ‘passive’ ones such as the ‘virtual cinemas’ available on many VR headsets: “Our emerging hypothesis is that headsets provide audiences with a rare opportunity to engage with content utterly free from distraction.” Fiennes said, “The rise of the smartphone being rarely away from one’s side means that it can often be challenging for audiences to be fully immersed in any kind of activity.”

The study also found that many users had problems with using VR, however. Many study participants found setting up the headset and navigating to find the kind of content they wanted to be a difficult and frustrating experience, and many people in the study found the VR immersion isolating. Some participants also complained of overheating smartphones and quality drops due to lag or Wi-Fi problems.

Fiennes warned that VR could end up in the same boat as 3DTVs if the issues are not resolved, pointing out the need for a frictionless user experience with consistent, open standards.

VRFocus will continue to bring you news on new studies involving VR.