How to Stream Movies and TV in Virtual Reality

How to Stream Movies and TV in Virtual Reality

I was drawn to virtual reality by the idea I’d be able to actively immerse myself in other worlds. I loved the idea of full body fruit-slashing in Fruit Ninja, or getting fit with Supernatural’s boxing workouts. In practice though, VR’s most satisfying experience for me has been watching Vivarium on a virtual big screen while lying on my back in bed — I had no idea watching a movie could be even more slothful! Share the joy of virtual inactivity with this guide to watching streaming video on your Oculus Quest 2.

How to watch Netflix on your Oculus Quest 2

Netflix has been available in the virtual world since 2015, and in that time, it hasn’t expanded to offer much beyond basic features. But that’s cool; I just want to watch movies anyway. Setting up Netflix on your Oculus couldn’t be easier: Download the app from the Oculus store, log in to your account, and you’ll have access to everything you would be able to watch on Netflix on your TV. You can watch movies in either a virtual living room or in “void” mode. I prefer the void because you can position the screen however you like, which for me, means I can lie flat on my back with a big virtual screen on the ceiling. So gooood.

How to watch Amazon Prime on your Oculus Quest 2

Setting up Amazon Prime on your Oculus is easy: Download the app. Enter your info. Watch Prime content. Sadly, you can’t rent or purchase movies from Prime directly from the VR app, but you can watch movies you’ve already rented or purchased on other devices. The app itself offers a virtual screening room as well as the option of placing the screen anywhere you like. There’s some VR-specific, 360 degree content you can check out — things like scuba diving and riding in a hot air balloon. Amazon’s “Watch Party” was announced for VR back in June, 2020, but if it’s available, I can’t figure out how to access it from the Oculus.

How to watch YouTube on your Oculus Quest 2

YouTube’s VR hub lets you watch all the 2D content YouTube has to offer, as well as 180 degree and 360 degree videos. Setting it up also just involves downloading the app and entering your login info. A lot of YouTube channels are devoted to creating and sharing VR content, so there’s a ton of interesting stuff to check out, from mountain climbing adventures to a completely 3D, 360 degree, immersive trip inside someone else’s closet. YouTube also lets you rent movies directly from its VR app.

How to watch Disney+, HBO Max, and other streaming services on your Oculus Quest 2

If you prefer Hulu, Paramount, or another streaming service that doesn’t have a dedicated VR app for the Oculus, you can still watch their content. You just need to point your VR browser to the appropriate site, enter your information, and start streaming. These will not be 3D or VR streams, obviously. I streamed some video from HBO Max using the Oculus’s built-in browser and it worked great, but how smooth it all flows will depend on your internet speed.

How to watch video files from your computer with your Oculus Quest 2

The easiest way to watch videos from your PC on your Oculus is to transfer them to the headset. It’s easily done, but you’ll need a USB-C cable, like the Oculus Link, to connect them. Once you’ve done that, it’s a simple matter of transferring the file onto your headset and watching your content on any of the many video players from Oculus.

If you want to stream movies directly from your PC or Mac to your Quest 2, the Skybox VR app will do it, as will Bigscreen (more on Bigscreen below). I haven’t personally tried Skybox — it’s $US9.99 ($14) and I don’t have much occasion to do this — but it is a highly rated app that is reportedly easy to use, and allows you to stream anything from 2D movies to 3D movies to full virtual reality videos.

Bigscreen: How to have a uniquely VR movie-streaming experience on your Oculus Quest 2

While the “big name” video services like Netflix and Prime Video are basically no-frills ways of watching movies and TV on your headset, the Bigscreen app is all frills, and I’m here for it. This free app offers avatars, props, social interaction, and more. It lets you set up a Remote Desktop Client and stream video directly from your PC to your Quest 2 (I’m a Mac, so I haven’t had a chance to test this feature). And, again, it’s free.

Bigscreen allows users to host and join viewing parties where you and some friends (or interested strangers) can rent the same movie, eat some virtual popcorn, and chill out. You can watch ad-supported movies or rent them from the service, but everyone watching has to pay for the same movie.

Bigscreen also has public viewing rooms where anyone can join a viewing party for a ton of different movies and TV shows, from Rick and Morty, to old episodes of Dr. Who, to Bob Ross’ painting show, and more. This morning, I popped into a virtual theatre to watch a little of Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, then had a surprisingly awesome time watching a re-run of Dr. Phil with a bunch of strangers in a virtual living room. We were throwing tomatoes at the screen, heckling the guests, and otherwise having a Tuesday morning party.

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