Oculus is officially launching Oculus TV, its dedicated hub for watching flatscreen video in virtual reality, on the standalone Oculus Go headset. Oculus TV was announced at last month’s F8 conference, and it ties together a lot of existing VR video options, highlighting Oculus’ attempts to emphasize non-gaming uses of VR. The free app features a virtual home theater with what Oculus claims is the equivalent of a 180-inch TV screen. It offers access to several streaming video services, including subscription-based platforms like Showtime and free web television services like Pluto TV as well as video from Oculus’ parent company Facebook.
You can already watch a lot of non-VR video on Oculus Go; Showtime, Netflix, and Hulu have standalone apps, for instance. (Oculus’ other headsets, the Oculus Rift and Samsung Gear VR, have similar options.) These apps will simply launch from within Oculus Go, rather than being directly merged with it. Oculus TV supports Pluto TV, Red Bull TV, and Facebook Video, so users can access things like NBC News’ Pluto TV channel or original shows from Facebook Watch either alone or with headset-equipped friends.
Oculus TV has been billed as a VR set-top streaming box, and Oculus says it’s working on supporting more networks, including ESPN. Right now, it seems mostly designed to raise the profile of VR television, and to establish it as a central Oculus service, not just a collection of apps. The whole idea still has drawbacks: that 180-inch screen, for instance, will look a bit fuzzy with the Oculus Go’s limited resolution. Oculus TV also conspicuously doesn’t support YouTube, which is only available on the Oculus Rift through Steam or through the Oculus VR web browser on its mobile headsets. But it’s a decent option for people who want to watch television without distractions or who don’t want to wake up a child or significant other with a glowing screen.
Update June 27th 9AM ET: Added clarification that you can access YouTube’s website through Oculus’ browser.