Last week, the USPTO published DirecTV’s patent application for delivering “set top box content” to a virtual reality display device. This appears to be one of the first published patent applications by a major MVPD (“multichannel video programming distributor”), and could signal that the industry is ready to push their VR chips onto the table.
DirecTV’s patent application describes transmitting a live linear television signal to a user receiving device (e.g., a set top box), which then renders the signal and transmits it to a client device (e.g., smart phone). The client device includes a virtual reality application, which then scales the signal for display on a virtual reality device (e.g., Oculus Rift).
Thus far, the big players in traditional (cable, satellite) video content distribution, or MVPDs (“multichannel video programming distributors”), have been relatively quiet with respect to virtual reality technology. As seen below, most VR-related announcements by MVPDs have pertained to investments or acquisitions in studios, like NextVR. Moreover, a recent survey of 628 entertainment and media companies showed that at least 30% of the industry considered virtual reality “a non-starter, like 3DTV.”
Non-traditional content distributors have been somewhat more forward thinking. For example, in March, Hulu announced it would begin streaming content to Samsung Gear devices. Netflix also released a 360 promotional video last week in conjunction with its popular series, “Stranger Things.”