Understanding VR usage in homes across the UK for the BBC


There is much hype surrounding VR and the BBC wanted to understand the technology and the attitudes towards it to better shape their VR strategy for the coming years. The key questions they were interested in included how mainstream audiences currently see VR, what are their first reactions to experiencing VR, what types of content resonate and have impact, and what key challenges the industry must overcome if VR is to become a mainstream media habit…

What we did:

In partnership with the BBC, we undertook a research programme into VR encompassing market sizing, a synthesis of existing media needs research, and a longitudinal ethnographic study.

  • We recruited 8 teens and 8 adults from across the UK who were interested in VR, but had little experience with it. We gave them each a Samsung Gear headset for three months
  • For the first few weeks we asked participants to play with the hardware every day, discovering VR experiences themselves, and trying pieces we suggested to test specific elements
  • For the following 12 weeks, we left the hardware with participants to observe how VR would fit into their daily lives in the longer-term
  • Participants joined an online community to talk about their experiences. We visited them in their homes in the first two weeks, and interviewed them at weeks 8 and 14, part way through and at the end of the study

Key insight:

Our programme of research allowed the BBC to get under the skin of in-home VR experiences, get to grips with how it fits into audiences’ lives and understand what content engages them. It has shown the return on investment VR provides, the best ways to take advantage of the opportunity in the short-term, and how best to position the BBC for a future where VR becomes a mainstream medium in the long-term.


The BBC has been successful in creating an audience-centric approach to VR – something we believe to be unique in the sector. This project has led to changes in the BBC’s organisational structure, new commissioning, distribution, and marketing strategies, and a role for further research to hone future plans.

BBC Click – Virtual: The Reality

Ipsos thought-piece: VR – What’s the reality?

BBC Blog: Putting audiences at the heart of VR


Learn more about virtual reality (VR)


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