In a relatively short space of time, the internet has become a huge part of our everyday lives. Could the same also happen with the metaverse? It certainly seems to have gathered pace in the last year, having gained a lot of attention when Facebook rebranded to Meta in Autumn 2021. It is no longer just a futuristic concept, in fact, it is already happening and likely to become mainstream quicker than you think. Even though the metaverse is already ‘a thing’, as a concept, it is still somewhat difficult to grasp. It is difficult to define. This is in part because it isn’t a tangible object or entity like a car or a product, and definitions or aspirations differ from person to person.In simple terms, it can be described as being either private or shared 3D virtual worlds that people can immerse themselves in, using virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). The metaverse has the potential to change how we approach everything, from gaming to fitness, sports, socializing, education, training, shopping, travel and even healthcare. It is hard for people to visualize right now, just as it was hard for people to imagine how much smartphones would change our day to day lives. Look at what happened there, initially, many people were reluctant to get smartphones because they viewed them as unnecessary and associated apps as gimmicky with no real use. Fast forward to now, and we use smartphones for just about everything.It seems that the possibilities really are endless. If the metaverse is going to change how we consume content in such a big way, where does video streaming fit in? In this blog, we’ll explore part of the role that video consumers and the video industry will play in being a facilitator for the expansion of the metaverse.
It is well documented that the pandemic accelerated the shift in viewing behavior that was already underway, away from linear TV and towards streamed video content. The increased uptake of streamed video services is not the only aspect of viewing behavior that has changed over recent years. Viewing behavior has evolved over time in other ways too, with viewers no longer happy to simply watch videos. Now they want more interaction and to actually experience the video. We see this already with sports consumers, in that they want, and expect more than just watching video. They want to engage with multicamera action, statistics, the team, the players, and of course, other fans.At the lighter end of the scale, this means engaging users by making the video experience interactive with features such as social watching, gamification and shoppable content. At the other end, interaction is taken to another level and becomes fully immersive, making use of extended reality (XR) technology. Due to their very nature, VR and AR are the perfect platforms for interaction. Many gaming and fitness companies are already making a lot of revenue from their VR and AR offerings, with Meta having recently reported that the total amount of revenue from the Quest Store has now surpassed $1 billion.
People are already using the metaverse (or ‘metaverses’ to be more accurate because there isn’t just one metaverse, but many).This is particularly true of Gen Z, who have grown up playing metaverse based games like Minecraft, Fortnite and Roblox. As a result, they are already comfortable with the concept of socializing in the metaverse, and are happy to spend real and virtual money to change how their avatar looks. Despite this, the metaverse is still not likely to become mainstream until the immersive technologies of VR, AR and mixed reality (MR), or XR to use the umbrella term, is widespread. Now that VR headsets and more recently glasses are starting to be much more affordable, the technology is becoming more accessible for the average consumer. Nreal’s AR glasses are now available in Germany, Japan, Spain, South Korea, UK and the US.With the right tools in place, content providers can bring existing video content and applications into XR, or even design and develop entirely new XR content or services. In practice, this could see video consumers watching a travel or sports program enhanced with 3D models and information presented as virtual objects.It is not just pre-recorded video content that will evolve as XR technology is more widely adopted by consumers. XR technology will also transform live video streaming.
As the metaverse takes off, we will undoubtedly start to see a huge amount of change in the field of live video streaming, particularly music and sports. Fans will no longer be simply viewing the concert or game on a screen, but instead will be virtually present at the event, interacting with other fans. According to a recent survey of the general public in the US, almost half of all those surveyed said they would be interested in seeing live music in the metaverse.We all know that live sports and music events generate a huge amount of revenue. If there is potential to reach and engage new audiences remotely, through next-generation technology, this has potential to attract a lot of investment, resulting in heaps of accessible content and experiences. Why is this important to the video industry? Well, you don’t have to look very far back to see that next-generation technology has failed in the past because inadequate investment has led to lack of content, resulting in poor take up. Immersive experiences in this area have enough appeal to make live video streaming of events the tipping point.As the video industry is evolving to meet consumers’ needs and desires, it is paving the way for the metaverse to play a key role in our everyday lives, enhancing, not replacing physical interaction. In time, the metaverse will enable people around the world to interact and engage with each other virtually, in a way that has never been possible before. Video streaming will open the metaverse door to the masses.These are just some of the key technologies that will make the video industry a cornerstone of the metaverse.