USA Today Network releases ‘VRtually There,’ first weekly virtual reality news show
MCLEAN, Va. – October 20, 2016 — Gannett Co., Inc., parent company for the USA TODAY NETWORK which currently comprises USA TODAY and 109 local media brands, including Arizona Republic and Indianapolis Star, today announced the release of ‘VRtually There,’ the first branded news experience presented in virtual reality (VR).
‘VRtually There’ is a continuation of the USA TODAY NETWORK’s innovation and pioneering work in VR. The weekly experience enables the NETWORK’s journalists to tell the nation’s stories and deliver immersive and original VR content to its more than 110 million unique monthly users. More notably, the show provides new advertising opportunities for brand partners with the introduction of the “cubemercial,” the industry’s first VR ad unit created specifically for the medium, which demonstrates the NETWORK’s commitment to innovation in the digital publishing landscape.
“We are honored to be working with Toyota and Saatchi & Saatchi LA as our partners on launch of ‘VRtually There’. Working with outstanding brands, such as Toyota, to create branded content in the virtual space is exciting and ground breaking – we have learned so much over the past year. Viewers of the show will also experience the “cubemercial” – a showcase of our pioneering effort in building an ad standard in VR,” said Kevin Gentzel, USA TODAY NETWORK’s chief revenue officer.
USA TODAY NETWORK has been committed to inventing VR advertising and virtually-branded content experiences which have been built seamlessly into the show’s experience through the organization’s creative studio, GET Creative. The show’s premiere sponsor, Toyota, is featured in the first ever cubemercial, along with sixty seconds of branded VR content promoting the 2017 Toyota Camry.
“We believe in creating amazing experiences for our guests, so we’re excited to help launch USA TODAY NETWORK’s innovative VR show, bringing incredible virtual reality experiences to its audience,” said Lisa McQueen, Media Manager for Toyota Motor Sales, Inc. “The NETWORK’s approach to bold storytelling and use of new mediums aligns with our brand and our creative approach for the new 2017 Toyota Camry.”
‘VRtually There’ will be released weekly on Thursdays at 2 PM ET and puts viewers into the story for a first-person perspective via three original content segments. The segments are filmed and produced by NETWORK journalists across the U.S. and are available via the USA TODAY app, within the VR Stories app and YouTube.com/VRtuallyThere, which has exclusivity for the first sixty days from each episode’s release. The show is best viewed in VR on a mobile device using Google Cardboard, but is also available for viewing on devices, tablets and computers in 360.
“Our in-house VR content production is unique to the industry, allows us to showcase our great journalism across the NETWORK and allows us to expose our vast audience to this innovative storytelling. ‘VRtually There’ is another proof point of our continued innovation in storytelling,” said Joanne Lipman, USA TODAY NETWORK’s chief content officer.
The NETWORK has hired multi-Emmy winning producer and director, David Hamlin, to serve as executive producer of ‘VRtually There.’ He will be responsible for the show’s editorial direction and original content. Hamlin joins the USA TODAY NETWORK from National Geographic, and has created over 100 award-winning specials, series and new media projects for the National Geographic Channel, NBC, TBS, PBS, other global broadcasters and Non-Governmental Organizations.