Virtual reality to bring in $7B this year, $75B total by 2021, report says

Man with VR headset on
Headset sales are the biggest driver of virtual reality growth, but broadcasters want a bigger piece of the VR pie, too.

A report released Friday predicts that virtual reality (VR) will bring in $7.17 billion in revenues this year, Variety reported.

The spring 2017 Virtual Reality Industry Report, from Greenlight Insights, includes hardware unit forecasts and market revenue forecasts as well as current industry and technology analysis. By 2021, VR revenues will reach nearly $75 billion globally.

Virtual reality headset sales are already in an upswing—in March, research firm IDC predicted that VR headset device shipments will reach 99.4 million units in 2021, up nearly tenfold from the 10.1 million units shipped in 2016. The firm said that figure represented a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 58% across the five-year forecast period.


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More than 65% of all VR revenues will come from headset sales this year, according to Greenlight and reported by Variety. Other VR revenues will come from consumer content and VR cameras, at about 12% each. As VR makes what might be an inevitable shift toward skilled trade and educational use for things like training programs, Greenlight predicts that enterprise will make up nearly a quarter of VR revenue in 2021.

Variety noted that many of the major headset manufacturers, including Oculus, HTC and Google, have not released any data yet about their device sales.

Broadcast networks are also looking to capitalize on VR opportunities. In March, CNN announced that it was creating an immersive journalism unit and virtual reality platform within CNN Digital, called CNNVR. The recent SXSW media festival brought word of a new VR television series from VR studio UNLTD, called “Trinity.”

RELATED: Justice League, Aquaman getting virtual reality treatment from IMAX, Warner Bros.

Sporting events are one option with which some networks may test VR waters—Fox Sports’ broadcast of Super Bowl LI offered player point-of-view replays, calling it a “Be the Player” feature. The VR experience was enabled by Intel technology that created a VR view without actually needing to attach cameras to the players.

In November, CBS News launched apps for Amazon Fire TV and Android TV that featured 360-degree video playback. The 360-degree video will allow users to have control via their remotes, and puts more focus on live video. The New York Times and Samsung announced a partnership for The Daily 360 in November, which will produce a new 360-degree video every day.

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