Virtual reality rocket: Sector set to swell with Brits owning 16m headsets within five years

Oliver Gill
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Millions of people will be wearing virtual reality headsets in years to come (Source: Getty)

The UK virtual reality sector is set to grow at an annual rate of 76 per cent in coming years, making it the fastest growing UK entertainment and media market.

A report by PwC released today estimated the entertainment and media sector will be a £72bn market in the UK by 2021. It is forecast to grow by £10bn over the next five years.

PwC UK head of entertainment and media Phil Stokes said by 2021 there will be 16m virtual reality (VR) headsets in Britain. The majority of these, some 12m, will be mobile VR devices.

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Stokes said: “Dedicated home VR headsets - the higher end devices used for gaming and video - will account for 3m consumer headsets, with portable dedicated headsets - a new category of self-contained device that are easier to use and have superior capabilities to smartphone-based devices – forecast to account for 1m.”

Mobile takeover

Compared with VR, consumer spending on internet access is expected to grow at a more modest 3.6 per cent. Revenue will swell from £11.7bn to £14.1bn.

And by 2019 mobile internet will overtake fixed broadband access in terms of sales.

Telecoms firms are grappling with balancing investment in fixed line and wireless access. Many are keen to capture all four of the elements of quad play: phone, TV, broadband and mobile.

BT has bought mobile operator EE but also has launched its own-branded mobile network. Earlier this year Sky soft-launched its own mobile service.

Others, such as O2, have refrained from the fixed line market, preferring to focus on wireless.

Stokes said: “Government incentives and a more favourable regulatory environment for alternative operators should boost high speed fixed broadband penetration over the next five years.”

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Meanwhile, he added: “Demand for internet video shows no signs of slowing down.”

The report revealed spending by Britons on on-demand video providers such as Netflix will overtake DVD/Blu-ray sales in 2017. By 2021, internet video revenue will also surpass box office revenues of £1.3bn by hitting £1.4bn.

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