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Stream TV and chill in virtual reality: Netflix and Hulu to launch VR apps

Stream TV and chill in virtual reality: Netflix and Hulu to launch VR apps
A mock-up of what Netflix's virtual-reality experience will look like. The streaming service, along with Hulu, announced plans to get in on the 3D experience. (Netflix)

Netflix and Hulu are going 3D.

For those who've longed for a virtual reality-viewing experience while watching "House of Cards" or "Difficult People," the time has come. The streaming services have both announced plans to launch new virtual-reality apps that will give users the ability to consumer content in 3D.

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On Thursday at the Oculus Connect conference in Hollywood, it was revealed that Netflix has teamed with Facebook's Oculus VR to develop an app for Samsung Gear VR.

The app, which launched Thursday, features a component called "Netflix Living Room" that activates a user interface designed for the virtual-reality headset. In essence, members can get the Netflix experience on a virtual couch while wearing their Gear VR headset.

Competitor Hulu, meanwhile, expects to launch its app this fall. Its program will boast immersive 3D environments that will enable subscribers to stream the service's 2D library of content from their VR devices, as well as any original virtual-reality content.

The range of experiences, according to Hulu's release, will include viewers being able to transport themselves into a living room setting to catch the latest episode of the Hulu original "Difficult People." Or subscribers can choose to be transported to the blue couch in Jerry's iconic apartment from "Seinfeld."

Hulu also said it plans to produce content and curate films for virtual-reality platforms. They'll kick off the initiative with a short film that will serve as a bonus feature to their original series "RocketJump: The Show."

"Providing viewers with dynamic environments of their choice and themed around their favorite shows provides a whole new level of engagement, which, together with our cinematic VR experiences, makes Hulu an exciting VR destination," said Julian Eggebrecht, Hulu's vice president of device platforms.

A firm launch date for the Hulu app, as well as device availability, will be set later.

The announcements underscore how serious Hollywood is about making waves in the virtual-reality and the 3D worlds.

Hollywood studio 20th Century Fox, which was an early adopter in the virtual-reality space, also announced a partnership with Oculus. It became the first major studio to release full-length films on Oculus Video. More than 100 titles from its library, including "Gone Girl" and "Birdman," will be available in the Oculus Store.

I tweet about TV (and other things) here: @villarrealy

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