Comcast Invests Big in Virtual Reality

NextVR has already broadcasted an NBA game and Coldplay concert in VR.

Technology from NextVR on display at an NBA game between the Golden State Warriors and New Orleans Pelicans.

Technology from NextVR on display at an NBA game between the Golden State Warriors and New Orleans Pelicans.

The merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable may have failed but the two cable companies are coming together around a technology with the potential to disrupt the television industry: Virtual reality.

The two companies have taken part in a $30.5 million investment round in NextVR Inc., a Laguna Beach, Calif. company that recently used VR technology to broadcast the opening night NBA game between the Golden State Warriors and the New Orleans Pelicans. It also broadcasted a Democratic presidential debate and a Coldplay concert. NextVR says it’s the “only company capable of transmitting live high definition, three-dimensional virtual reality content over the Internet delivering a completely immersive and life-like experience for the viewer.” The company has 23 granted or pending patents.

News of the investment came from this article in the Wall Street Journal, which says that virtual reality “has become a popular bet for traditional media companies seeking to hold and expand their audiences as viewers cut pay-TV subscriptions in favor of content delivered via the Internet.”

The WSJ also spoke to Michael Yang, managing director of Comcast Ventures, who said virtual reality “is one of these emerging technologies that could evolve into the next great platform.” It also reported that Comcast joined a $10 million funding round for AltspaceVR Inc., a social-media platform for virtual reality.

Other funders were Peter Guber, chairman and CEO of Mandalay Entertainment and co-owner of the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Dodgers; RSE Ventures, a sports-and-entertainment venture firm; The Madison Square Garden Company, which owns sports teams and venues; and Dick Clark Productions, a producer and proprietor of televised live event entertainment.

“This first-class group of investors is a major validation of our virtual reality technology platform,” Brad Allen, executive chairman of NextVR said in a statement. “We are focused on delivering a great virtual reality experience and the key is great content. These investments reflect the relationships we are building to provide marquee content.”