Digital Transformation

CNN and NextVR partner to broadcast first Democratic presidential debate in virtual reality

By Adam Flomenbaum | Co-Executive Editor

September 28, 2015 | 4 min read

Hillary Clinton’s pantsuits and Bernie Sanders’s wild hair are only mildly exciting in two dimensions, which is partly why CNN and NextVR have teamed to broadcast the upcoming Democratic presidential debate in virtual reality.

CNN worked with NextVR to film the second Republican debate in VR, but it was only available to viewers later on demand. The October 13 debate, however, will mark the first-ever live stream of a news event in VR.

“CNN broke the mold 35 years ago, using that era's new technology - cable - to bring you the news in a format that at the time was revolutionary,” Jason Farkas, Executive Producer of CNNMoney, told Found Remote. “Virtual reality is just an extension of that tradition: a bleeding edge technology that doesn't only bring you the news - it brings you inside the news. The viewer is in the middle of the protests in Baltimore, or roaming the streets of Havana with Anthony Bourdain, or in this case sitting center stage at the CNN Facebook Democratic Presidential Debate. Our mantra is "Go There." Virtual reality quite literally brings that promise to life. It's the perfect format for what CNN does best.”

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With Facebook and Samsung heavily invested in the technology and its future, if VR does turn out to be a flop (3D TVs, anyone?) it will be a very expensive one. If VR succeeds, though, as the next step in entertainment, NextVR is poised to capitalize. The company has already worked with the NBA, MLB, NHL, and NASCAR, and is now focused on expanding its roster of partners along with the types of events it broadcasts.

For CNN, Farkas said, partnering with NextVR was “an obvious choice.” “NextVR is the only company in the world that's figured out how to live stream in 3D virtual reality,” he continued. “CNN has always been about being there first, and being there live. So when we learned that NextVR's technology could take that tradition into the future with virtual reality, it was an easy decision. When you experience what they are doing for the first time, your jaw drops. The only thing more fun than stepping into VR yourself is watching someone else try it. The reactions are priceless.”

You have two weeks to go out and get that Samsung GearVR headset; Clinton and Sanders trading barbs won’t be the same without one.

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