The virtual reality revolution is coming, and now the question is how many industries will be affected by the futuristic tech. Gaming is certainly the first, followed by several applications and short story-telling experiences. However, it seems that journalists and news is another area that virtual reality could blend with perfectly.
The draw of VR is easy to understand. It’s new tech with immersive content that places the users in the middle of the action. They can see everything as if they’re already there, and it’s as close as some would get to certain locations. It makes it more convincing and, as the name of the industry implies, virtually real. News outlets could highly benefit from the tech in order to better pull in the audience into a particular story.
Gannett Co. Inc. announced that its USA Today Network will be launching a new channel dedicated exclusively to offering regularly schedule news on virtual reality. That means that every bit of news, ranging from sports, to politics, or finance will be seen on a VR headset. According to the director of applied technology for USA Today Network, Niko Chauls, virtual reality presents with a unique opportunity. It can tell stories in different ways.
The channel, which will be called ‘VRtually There’ will launch at some point in spring 2016, though it has not been detailed how often it will air. That likely depends on the initial public interest, and the availability of the content. According to Chauls, this will be the first VR channel out there and it will imply additional training of their employees. Although in spite of the fact that they will have to understand new techniques of developing, producing, and editing the news, Chauls claimed that there will be no significant costs.
As far as the viewers are concerned, VRtually There will start small. First, it will be viewable on the low-cost devices, such as Google’s Cardboard which goes for around $15. With time, it’s expected that the same content will become available on the more high-tech headsets, such as Oculus Rift that launches later on this month or HTC Vive which will arrive in April.
Eventually, Chauls hopes that they will be able to deliver news in live streaming. That means listening to the news and being in there while its actually reported.
So far, the company is thinking about monetization and advertising techniques, from the standard banners to other type of content they can deliver. It will be interesting to see if the public will show an interest in the new industry, and warm up to a new way of getting weekly reports. It won’t be “watching the news” or “listening to the news”, it will be “experiencing the news”.
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