Free-roaming virtual reality isn’t a good fit for traditional fictional narrative filmmaking, which is best served by concise, not-a-move wasted storytelling, but it works well with journalistic efforts seeking to immerse people in an experience. And that explains why we’ve seen news organizations from the New York Times to the Associated Press rolling out virtual 360-degree video initiatives in recent months.
Now, the Gannett Co.’s USA Today Network is ramping up its immersive video efforts with VRtually There, billed as the first branded news experience presented in virtual reality.
Premiering in the spring of 2016, VRtually There will work with its newsrooms across the country to develop a slate of regularly-scheduled original programming covering a variety of topics, including music news from Nashville, sports news from Detroit and Indianapolis, political news from Washington DC, outdoor news from Reno and Fort Collins, tech and life news from San Francisco and Los Angeles, and consumer tips from Reviewed.com.
VRtually There will also collaborate with sponsors and agencies to develop content integrations for the channel, with assistance from USA Today Network’s in-house branded content studio, Get Creative.
“The USA Today Network‘s commitment to storytelling, utilizing VR, sets us apart in the news media space,” said Kevin Gentzel, USA Today Network’s chief revenue officer, in a statement. “We are equally focused on connecting our readers to brands in VR.”
USA Today Network‘s previous 360-degree video efforts include the Edward R. Murrow award-winning “Harvest of Change” and Presidential Soapbox from Gannett Co. publication the Des Moines Register, clips of skiing with the U.S. Olympic ski team in Colorado and flying with the Blue Angels in Florida.