After it was reported yesterday that Facebook will be introducing more VR content inside its social media platform, it seems that an increasing number of media companies are starting to embrace virtual reality. One organization utilizing the technology is the USA Today network, which has just announced that it’s making a VR news show called VRtually There.
Accessed through either a dedicated page on the USA Today website or via its VR stories app, USA Today owner Gannett Co. Inc. claims that VRtually There will be "the first branded news experience presented in VR.”
Set to begin sometime in spring, the show will have a “true network approach,” and feature segments on a range of topics, including politics, sports, technology and finance. The show’s running time and how often it will air has yet to be decided.
“VR provides a unique opportunity to tell the stories of news in new and different ways,” Niko Chauls, director of applied technologies for the USA Today Network, said in an interview. “The technology provides for a level of immersion and experiential storytelling like nothing else.”
Chauls said that the content will initially be designed for smartphone-powered headsets, such as the Samsung Gear VR and Google Cardboard, but it will eventually be available for the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.
Some of the content shown on VRtually There will also be available in a non-VR format on the company’s websites, mobile apps, and social media posts. The ultimate goal, according to Chauls, is to create a virtual reality news program that can be broadcast in real-time.
“Over time we want to get to be able to offer VR in a live streaming capacity,” he said. “That’s not something we’re able to do right off the bat […] It’s a challenge facing everybody in the news industry.”
USA Today already uses virtual reality for a number of news items with its VR Stories page and app. Even though VR is in its infancy, it seems most companies expect the platform to revolutionize the way we consume content.