New York Times, the NewFronts Presentation and Virtual Reality
Virtual reality technology is the major buzz right now and companies across sectors are taking advantage of what it has to offer. The New York Times recently distributed 1 million Google Cardboard viewers to its subscribers and it was déjà vu all over again at the NewFronts presentation where visual storytelling and more specifically virtual reality took center stage.
The NewFronts Presentation
The event kicked off with a live performance from the musical duo Lion Babe and a couple of New York Times executives and journalists came out to talk about the company’s achievements and successes. Saying that “the future of storytelling is visual,” CEO Mark Thompson noted that over the past year, the Times has increased its investments in digital video platforms and expanded its U.S. millennial audience from 20 million in March of last year to 31 million this year, per comScore.
EVP and CRO, Meredith Kopit Levien was also on deck to talk about the developments and strides made by the company’s own advertising unit, T Brand Studio which is now responsible for over 150 projects including several virtual reality projects for its partners. She also unveiled the new Story X, a new digital division that will launch this summer and help develop new tools for integrating technology like augmented reality and connected automobiles for both the Times newsroom and advertisers.
The Times SVP and assistant editor of video, Alex MacCallum then shifted the attention to the company’s digital video innovations which includes live videos that take the viewer behind the scenes at the Times newsroom during big events and immersive 360-degree tours of different places around the world.
Virtual reality took center stage at the event. “Today we stand before you as the leaders in virtual reality journalism,” declared New York Times Magazine editor-in-chief, Jake Silverstein, who noted that since the Times debuted its first VR film exactly one year ago, it has distributed more than 1 million Google Cardboard viewers to subscribers through a partnership with Google and GE (with plans to distribute another 300,000 this year) and debuted a VR viewer app that became the most successful product launch in Times history.
By next year, the company will turn its attention towards expanding its virtual reality beyond the mobile app and is already in discussions with several of the top VR platforms. New virtual video slated for this year will include a re-enactment of the famous Olympic stadiums and take a look at the climate change in Antarctica. There will also be another set of VR series made up of clips that aim to put the viewer in “relaxing environments”.
Virtual Reality Role in New series
Virtual reality will also play a major role in six of the new interactive series announced by the times. These series include “The Fine Line” which will focus on some of this year’s top Olympic contenders and use tools like motion capture. Another title is “The Art of Better” which will highlight the science of productivity. “Two Tales of a City” features two traveling writers visiting the same city on different budgets. The last three are “the Inside Track”, “Chartland”, and “Out There”.
The Times is putting a lot of resources into virtual reality as it believes it will be a major draw for advertisers. So far the company has created VR videos for major brands like Mini and Tag Heuer and they strive to continue in this VR path.