As cost and technological barriers fall, news media companies are beginning to embrace Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and other immersive storytelling experiences.
And naturally so. This fast-changing technology, once the stuff of futuristic fantasy, now seems an easy fit for media companies looking to differentiate and captivate audiences with content that goes deeper, strikes new emotional chords, lets audiences do more than passively read or consume news. Now they can experience and feel news.
As we usher in 2017, The New York Times is, unsurprisingly, leading the charge to create this type of innovative, immersive news content. The news media company’s November 2016 launch of The Daily 360 promised one 360-degree video every day for an entire year.
Already the series has garnered international attention for offering a unique, immersive look at places, ranging from a migrant boat to a Bergdorf Goodman store window, and has virtually dropped viewers into the middle of all sorts of situations, ranging from a Standing Rock oil pipeline protest to the backstage of an opera.
INMA asked New York Times Senior Editor Sam Dolnick to share details about The Daily 360 strategy, insights, and early results from the project:
INMA: How did the idea of The Daily 360 come about?
Dolnick: For 165 years, The New York Times has been committed to telling stories in the most ambitious, innovative, and powerful ways. Immersive visual journalism is the future. The launch of NYT VR was a big leap. The Daily 360 is the natural next step.
INMA: Why did you decide to produce one video per day, and how do you choose the stories?
Dolnick: The Times is a daily habit for our subscribers, and we believe that immersive video can be part of our audience’s daily experience as well. Virtual Reality is a great journalistic tool for taking people places they would not otherwise visit (ex. war zones and remote places) or allowing them access to people or experiences that would otherwise be off limits. With each story, our newsroom decides how best to tell that story. It could be in text, graphics, photos, 2D video, or 360 video.
INMA: How are you incorporating the 360-degree videos into stories in your existing channels?
Dolnick: The Daily 360 is featured prominently on the homepage of NYTimes.com every day as well as our mobile app. In addition to being in the NYT VR app, The Daily 360 lives on Times Video, alongside the rest of our video content. Times Video is organised by channel.
INMA: How are you directing traffic to The Daily 360?
Dolnick: Digital banners, print ads in The New York Times newspaper, NYT Sunday magazine, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
INMA: How does The Daily 360 integrate with your editorial team and processes?
Dolnick: We established a VR team in our newsroom in 2015 to support our VR efforts. We have an executive producer for 360-degree video who manages all of the video that comes in from our journalists out in the field.
INMA: What lessons have you learned thus far?
Dolnick: The speed of change in VR is incredible. As the technology keeps getting better and more efficient, we are learning a lot more in the field. Also, we’ve learned that VR and 360-degree video are not a flash in the pan. The average time spent in the NYT VR app is 6.5 minutes, which is truly incredible.
INMA: What are the revenue opportunities for The Daily 360?
Dolnick: Samsung is the sponsor of The Daily 360.
INMA: How will you measure the impact or success of The Daily 360?
Dolnick: It’s still early days, but we will be looking at engagement and traffic.