Investment In VR/Augmented Reality Is Down

Worried about the future of TV? First. Take off those big clunky VR goggles.

Investment in virtual reality/augmented reality companies is dramatically down, according to a new PwC/CB Insights study.

Why? There's just not much scale. Consumers aren’t there in a big way. So, naturally neither are VR/AR developers. Networks? Media companies? They are further behind in specific plans.

Here’s the data: In the U.S., investment for augmented and virtual start-ups dropped 46% to $809.9 million in 2018, according to the Los Angeles Times. In Los Angeles and Orange Counties alone, investment in augmented and virtual reality startups sank 81% last year to $24.7 million in 2017.

This happens a lot in TV land: There's big promise and theoretical possibilities -- and then a letdown. Do I need to remind you about 3DTV? And what about 4KTV? It may be a slightly better bet. But only just.



Here’s a list of TV networks-digital platforms that are delivering some content in 4K when available: Netflix, DirecTV, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, BT Sport, BBC iPlayer, Virgin Media, Sky Q, and ultra HD Blu-ray discs.

In addition, there is Comcast, which also offers 4K TV content. Still, not all TV shows offer episodes for all seasons in 4K.

(All this is occurring while Japanese broadcaster NHK plans to air the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics in 8K.) 

So are we behind here in the U.S.? Yes and no.

In the U.S., a new broadcast TV standard -- ATSC 3.0 also -- promises much. It is a key for bringing TV stations new digital revenue opportunities -- programming, advertising and subscription -- helping them compete more effectively with digital media competitors.

Test markets are already working in this area. But we need to ask, with regard to other promising TV innovations, will there be scale? And perhaps more importantly, will investment dollars continue to grow?

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