First USA TODAY NETWORK experimented with virtual reality (VR) news shows like Blue Angels 360, Cuba 360, Presidential Soapbox 360, and Indy Car 360. Now the news network is going full out with a new virtual reality news show, called VRtually There.
Billed as the first branded news experience presented in VR, the news series will put the viewer inside the story as if they are really there. USA Today, an early adopter to VR-driven news reporting, wants to capitalize on the exponential growth expected within the virtual reality space as VR becomes more familiar and accepted amongst consumers.
VRtually There will air a variety of regularly scheduled segments on a wide variety of topics across the US, including music, sports, politics, the outdoors, finance, tech and consumer tips. The news will be available on the VRtually There website, or via an application called VR Today. It will be the first regularly scheduled VR news in the world.
An integral part of this news evolution involves the new evolving field of VR advertising. USA TODAY NETWORK has established a content studio, GET Creative, where the network’s experienced VR videographers are working with brands to come up with ways to leverage VR as a new advertising medium.
“We are excited to work with innovative brands and agencies to invent VR advertising products and virtual branded content experiences. The USA TODAY NETWORK‘s commitment to storytelling, utilizing VR, sets us apart in the news media space,” said Kevin Gentzel chief revenue officer.
There are a variety of ways to experience the VR news stories. Anyone with an internet browser can view news in a 360 degree viewing angle, getting a different view by changing the angle of the camera by simply clicking and dragging their mouse. Those with an integrated (HMD) head-mounted display like a Vive Pre, or mobile VR headsets like Samsung VR will be able to immerse themselves completely in the story, becoming part of it, experiencing it to some extent.
USA Today is part of a growing trend of news outlets embracing VR as the next storytelling medium. Sports Illustrated’s annual swimsuit edition was done in virtual reality; the New York Times shipped millions of Google Cardboard to viewers and has released its own VR app; Associated Press has partnered with a Los Angeles-based production company to produce VR-based news content and The Wall Street Journal recently released a 360-degree video experience about American Ballet Theatre soloist Sarah Lane rehearsing for a title role.