Rupert Murdoch’s Sky Launches Virtual Reality App, David Beckham ‘Experience’

Leo Barraclough

Rupert Murdoch’s European pay-TV operator Sky has launched a virtual-reality app, Sky VR, and unveiled two new VR “experiences,” including one featuring soccer star David Beckham.

The free app showcases 360-degree videos from Sky and its partners, including “Star Wars: Red Carpet,” “The Martian Sneak Peek,” “Suicide Squad: Squad 360” and “The Jungle Book.”

The new VR “experiences” are “Sky Sports: Closer,” featuring Beckham, and a performance from the English National Ballet’s production of “Giselle,” the first of a series of Sky exclusive VR commissions.

In his second piece of VR content for Sky Sports, Beckham is seen entering a Sky VR simulator, which “takes him and the viewer to visit the world’s best sports events at the touch of a button,” according to a statement. The footage was created in-house by the Sky VR Studios, in collaboration with Google.

Beckham said in a statement: “It was great to work with Sky and Google on this film to launch the new Sky Virtual Reality app. The team from the Sky VR studio came up with an incredible concept that shows the range of sport Sky offers. Being able to take other sports fans on a journey into some of the world’s biggest sporting events was a unique opportunity.”

In addition to “Giselle,” Sky has commissioned a series of VR “experiences,” including “Sky News – U.S. Elections” and “Tutankhamun’s Tomb — The Search for Nefertiti.” They are being produced both in-house by the Sky VR Studios and with third-party partners.

The Sky VR app will be home to around 20 different pieces of 360-degree video content from Sky, Disney, Fox Innovation Lab, Warner Brothers, Baobab Studios, Jaunt, Innerspace and Surround Vision.

Gary Davey, managing director of content at Sky, said: “Interest in VR content is building, generating more excitement every day. We are just at the beginning of our VR journey at Sky, launching Sky VR studios earlier this year, and we are already breaking new ground. Now comes the creative challenge of deploying this immersive experience with engaging storytelling. I am a big believer.”

Content highlights in the app at launch include:

Sky Cinema’s “Star Wars: Red Carpet” – walk the red carpet at the premiere of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”
“Anthony Joshua: Becoming World Champion” – see Joshua as he becomes IBF world heavyweight boxing champion.
Disney’s two VR experiences from “The Jungle Book” — enabling viewers to get up close and personal with King Louie and Kaa
Fox Innovation Lab’s “The Martian Sneak Peek” – transports viewers to Mars to follow the film’s protagonist Mark Watney after he has been stranded on the planet
Warner Brothers’ “Suicide Squad: Squad 360” – viewers can see what it’s like to be a member of the Suicide Squad during a scene from the film.
“Team Sky – Journey to the Tour” — follow the Sky cycling team preparing for their third Tour de France.
“F1 – Team Williams” – lets fans go behind the scenes of the Williams Formula 1 racing team, in the pit lane and in-car viewing.
“Sky News – Calais: The Jungle” – taking viewers inside “The Jungle,” a refugee camp in Northern France.
“Baobab Studios — Invasion” – a VR animation about a duo of aliens aiming to take over the world, but needing to overcome two fearsome rabbits.
“Jaunt – Paul McCartney: Dance Tonight” — McCartney takes viewers through the “creation story” of this song and its music video.

Related stories

MIT to Hold Virtual Reality Hackathon Sponsored by 20th Century Fox

HTC Launches Viveport App Store for Vive Virtual Reality Headset

Raindance Film Festival Embraces Virtual Reality

Get more from Variety and Variety411: Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Newsletter