Disney Plans to Tackle 5G, Streaming, and new VR Tech in 2019
The well-known media giant, Walt Disney Corporation, spent last year doing what they do best: releasing blockbuster films and buying up smaller media companies. And while not quite a “small” company, the deal to obtain 21st Century Fox is expected to close come this July. But it doesn’t end there.The conglomerate has its eyes on a number of unconventional prizes for the upcoming year.
Perhaps the farthest foray from its roots, Disney and Verizon announced a partnership at the recent CES 2019 to integrate emerging 5G technology into Disney operations. While details on both the deal and 5G itself are not readily available, Verizon claims they will offer Disney 10 gigabit-per-second data speeds, lower transfer latencies, and a slew of other technical improvements. To put that in perspective, the average American is still sitting at 20 megabits-per-second, several factorial slower. Half a dozen tech giants are already claiming to be at the forefront of 5G, and many similar deals to grease the wheels between tech and media are sure to follow.
When the word Streaming comes up, the vast majority of people think Netflix. They pioneered the subscription-based, noncommittal, digital delivery system of the decade that we all know and love. Every major contender wants a piece of the pie, and Disney will be no exception.
Disney+ is the company’s purported streaming platform. While Disney may be magnitudes larger than Netflix, the latter company has shown unbelievable growth in the last 5 years, including its own large array of original content. Disney already has the original content (or has bought the original IPs), but now they want a new place to put it. This undertaking will be far larger than any of their past or current platforms, which is little more than a cable channel and conventional theaters.
It’s sure to be a crowded playing field for entertainment streaming. Amazon and Hulu are already major contenders, along with SlingTV, Youtube, and Chromecast. Apple is also reported to have a service in the pipeline. If this is starting making your head dizzy, it should. Historically, the average consumer would pay for a cable subscription to fulfill all entertainment needs. Now all available content is poised to be divided and cut-throat between the providers.
Last but not least, Disney Corporation filed patents last year on a moving floor technology to enhance VR experience. We’ve already seen similar concepts from Omnipad and Virtuix: large, stationary movement-simulators meant to couple with Virtual experiences. While not usually considered a big name in VR, Disney has taken its first steps on their own version. There is speculation that this sort of technology could be implemented at Disney theme parks.
It would not be their first venture into VR experiences. Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire is a collaboration project between Lucasfilm, ILMxLAB and The VOID. The player is taken on a short adventure with Rogue One characters, and it’s gotten raving reviews. Disney also showed off a VR short film called Cycles to small groups of press and influencers in the latter half of 2018. And confirmed they are working on yet another secret VR film project.
To sum up
Disney is putting stock in a future with VR entertainment. And this, along with their more conventional projects, will be fueled by a cutting-edge 5G network and a streaming service. Disney Corporation is slowly pulling its content from soon-to-be competitor Netflix in preparation of their own platform, and we should expect the process to speed up drastically. What may be most exciting, however, is the thought of Disney-quality entertainment entering VR. While impressive on its own merits, most VR filmography is unpolished and experimental. Disney would be sure to add that professional touch.