New York City’s Netflix, the world’s largest streaming video service, is considering a new video format that could connect its customers to one another online.
The company has been experimenting with virtual video for a year, but it recently opened up its first video app, dubbed Vue, to its streaming customers.
The new app has the same design as Vue’s main app, but lets users watch videos through a virtual screen that looks like a computer monitor.
“We wanted to bring our customers together through virtual video because we feel it is the next evolution in digital media and that we are better positioned to deliver the kind of content they want and deserve,” Netflix VP of marketing, video, and interactive, Andrew W. Anderson, wrote in a blog post published Friday.
The app is being released to users in partnership with Vue.
“It’s an extension of what we do, and it’s something we’re excited about,” he said.
The company is also testing the idea of using virtual video to give people access to new features that are only available to Netflix subscribers.
“We’re looking at ways to expand the possibilities of virtual video,” Anderson wrote.
Netflix’s VR app was launched last year to compete with Facebook’s Oculus Rift.
The first test, which allowed people to watch videos while wearing a VR headset, was met with positive feedback, but the company later moved the test to a separate platform.
Netflix says that while the new app looks similar to Vue with its screens, it has added features that could be useful for people who aren’t yet familiar with virtual reality.
“This is really a new way of watching videos that allows us to deliver more of what they want,” Anderson said.
Netflix said it has already tested Vue in a handful of cities.
“The fact that we’re making it available to a wider audience is really good news for everyone,” Anderson added.
Netflix doesn’t plan to release any details about the new VR app until the app is fully live.
But Anderson noted that Vue is currently available for iPhone and Android.
Netflix also has a “virtual theater” where users can watch videos from around the world in a virtual theater, where they can sit in chairs or on the floor.
The theater lets people watch videos and movies in a “safe environment” that is also interactive, and there are also two virtual play areas, which can be accessed from a phone.
“People can go anywhere in the world and see things and interact with other people and share that experience with them,” Anderson explained.