USA TODAY NETWORK today announced the release of its weekly virtual reality news show, ‘VRtually There’ – the first-ever branded news experience exclusively in partnership with YouTube and Toyota, who is the premiere launch sponsor. Each episode will be released on Thursdays at 2pm ET and will allow viewers to experience the stories from the 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 VRtually There’s YouTube channel (YouTube has exclusivity on the content for the first sixty days after each release).
The launch of ‘VRtually There’ further demonstrates not only the USA TODAY NETWORK’s innovation and pioneering work in VR, but also its commitment to creating new ways to engage its digital audience of more than 110 million each month. With this weekly-scheduled experience, the NETWORK’s journalists now have the opportunity to tell the nation’s stories by delivering truly immersive and original VR content to its audience.
“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.
From the advertising standpoint, the show also provides new partnership opportunities for brands to engage consumers in fully-immersive experiences that are created and curated by them. The introduction of the “cubemercial,” industry’s first-ever VR ad unit created specifically for the medium, proves the USA TODAY NETWORK’s leadership position in the digital landscape.
“We are honored to be working with Toyota and Saatchi & Saatchi LA as our partners on the 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.”
The NETWORK has also hired David Hamlin, an Emmy-awarded producer and director, to be the executive producer for ‘VRtually There’. He will be responsible for the show’s editorial direction and original content. Hamlin joins the 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 NGOs.