MTV's new online strategy: virtual reality TV
MTV, pioneer of all things edgy on cable TV, has been caught flat-footed by the MySpace revolution. But the network is now poised to go virtual in a particularly intriguing way, reports Richard Siklos of The New York Times.
This week, the network will launch "Virtual Laguna Beach," a massively multi-player virtual reality game based on its TV show "Laguna Beach: The Real OC." As far as The Browser knows, this is the first example of virtual reality TV. The notion has that eerie "this is probably what the future will be like" quality. "You can not only watch TV, but now you can actually live it,” said Van Toffler, president of Viacom's MTV Networks unit, to The Times.
Sure, it's a bit of stretch to think an aging cable-TV outfit inside a major media empire won't screw up its virtual reality efforts, but the idea makes sense. And Om Malik notes that it's the first of three such virtual extensions planned by Viacom, where octogenarian boss Sumner Redstone recently axed Tom Freston for having missed the MySpace boat.
Here's the best part, though not likely to completely reassure God-fearing parents in the Midwest: Unlike some more racy virtual reality games, Virtual Laguna, built by Makena Technologies, will limit the "physical" contact between avatars to kissing.
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