DirecTV launches pay-TV's first virtual reality app

DirecTV (NYSE: T) says it's taking a "first jab" into the area of virtual reality, launching a smartphone app that lets customers see highlights from the June 27 BKB fight event at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.

DirecTV sells TV coverage of BKB (Bareknuckle Boxing) events as pay-per-view products. The new BKB VR app is designed to work with Samsung Gear VR Innovator Edition and Cardboard virtual reality headsets for both Android and iOS mobile devices.

The app, which DirecTV says gives viewers a "360-degree ringside experience," is available for download from both Google Play and Apple's App Store, as well as the Oculus Store. DirecTV is producing the BKB events with a five-camera system designed it said to give the viewer the perspective of actually being in the live audience.

"We know that VR can be a deeply engaging entertainment medium. It delivers a compelling sense of 'being there' that's unmatched by any other technology," said Jon Molod, VP of DirecTV's digital entertainment products group. "We believe that much of VR's growth will be mobile driven. As the technology evolves we hope to find new ways to use VR to enhance not just BKB, but all sports experiences."

But don't expect DirecTV to remain alone in the virtual reality space for long. Virtual reality is seen as a potential difference-maker for the pay-TV industry as it tries to stave off cord-cutting and competition from OTT rivals.

CableLabs, for example, has been developing virtual reality technology for its MSO constituents for some time. Meanwhile, through its venture capital arm Comcast Ventures (NASDAQ: CMCSA), the No. 1 cable company has been quietly making investments into the virtual reality market.

Of course, pay-TV players aren't the only ones investing in the area. Netflix, Facebook and other Internet companies are too.

For more:
- read this DirecTV press release

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