Anyone that has read my blog probably knows my answer and I'm just going to be honest. Imagine that, me being brutally honest. That's who I am and as many of you know, it's a part of my very unorthodox writing style.
You don't just have to listen to my opinion this time, let's hear from the public. I have an Android phone (no jokes from the Apple lovers please). According to my Google Play store, it shows less than 10,000 downloads of the NBC Sports VR app (powered by Intel) and an average rating of 2.1 stars based on 138 reviews (as of this writing), with 80 of those reviews being 1 star.
I asked one of my "Apple friends" to get me the info for the App and no surprise to me, similar results. They couldn't find downloads, but assume it's not a huge number. 205 reviews with an average of 1.6 stars and you should read some of those reviews! They make my opinions look somewhat gentle in comparison. You must go read some and don't worry, I'll make it easy, here is a link. This is what I found online, but if you have the App store, I'm sure you can find more. It's kind of fun for me :)
Now the media hasn't quite been bashing the "VR Experience" yet because NBC and Intel have a lot of power and 95% of the media coverage so far has stories like "How to watch the Olympics in VR" and "Intel and NBC brings you to Pyongyang with VR" Blah, Blah, Blah. Here is my favorite story so far, which completely tells the truth and it's written in the MIT Technology Review by Rachel Metz. Now this makes me feel good, really good actually. You've all read my rants (uh, I mean blogs) and you would never confuse me for an MIT graduate based on my writing skills, but Rachel and I are agreeing on this experience. Maybe I'll go back to MIT for my PHD in VR. I LOVE this article title, it's so ME! You ready? Wait for it.... Wait for it ....
"I thought VR would make watching Olympic snowboarding awesome. Sadly, it sucked." You can read this article here
Rachel talks mostly about the technical glitches, which are many and she touched upon one of my constant messages, she says, "while it’s cheaper and more widely available than ever before, it’s still not great at transforming visual experiences for the masses." There is one thing you left out Rachel, the masses aren't seeing it. 10,000 downloads on Google Play and let's assume approximately the same on Apple, that certainly is not "the masses". The reason the masses aren't seeing this underwhelming content is because as I'm sure my readers all know by now, repeat it with me, "The only way to get VR to the masses is cardboard". It's inexpensive and the most amount of people can experience content for the first time and not spend $60 on devices in case they don't like it.
Now let me advocate very strongly for our industry and tell the person that hasn't experienced VR before that they would probably be "blown away" by seeing Gold Medal winner Shaun White fly over their head. It's fricken awesome actually so I encourage people to buy our Team USA Olympic inspired viewers still at www.unofficialcardboard.com/olympics because the content will be available for awhile on the app or better yet, just look at more great content on your YouTube app and follow the directions on this video.
Here's the other thing that Rachel forgot to mention. The app has been all over the place in the first week of the Olympics. First it was an easy download and watch process, then they added a second app that looks the same on the Google Play store that ONLY works with the Google Daydream, so that added confusion. Within the last couple of days they've added the "you must login with their cable provider" BS. Really Intel and NBC, do millennials even have a cable provider anymore? You certainly don't have to go to MIT to figure that one out.
One more thing before I leave you today. This time, our company actually lost money because of this blunder by NBC and Intel. Unofficial Cardboard paid for an influencer campaign to encourage followers of these influencers to purchase our viewers and follow along with the Olympics in VR. We gave very specific instructions to these influencers on how to view the content and that included downloading the NBC Sports VR app. As I mentioned before, they changed the app and now people have to login with a cable company (if you have one) and then, and only then, do you get a choice to watch a VR Replay (with your cable login) or Watch on NBC Sports (doesn't say app) and when you press this button, guess what you get? A chance to download another app. How frustrating is that! In any case, NBC made this so confusing, that we didn't have many people know how to see the content in our custom viewers. NBC, you can make that $1700 check out to Unofficial Cardboard.
I'll pose this question to you again, "Is NBC and Intel doing a good job or bad job with their Olympics VR coverage?
Please give your opinions, I'm eager to see what you think.
Thanks for listening
Chief Marketing Officer at Unofficial Cardboard