USA TODAY NETWORK and Oculus Toast Their Partnership at F8

By USA Today Network Archives
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USA TODAY NETWORK is continuing its advances into virtual reality with an experiential tour of the historic Buffalo Trace Distillery in Kentucky. Immersive, journalistic storytelling, made possible through a new partnership with Oculus, was debuted by USA TODAY NETWORK last week at F8, Facebook's annual developer conference. Its latest interactive production -- a photo story of the distillery told here -- is visible with or without Oculus glasses as you can also browse the video in 360 degrees.

I typically opt out of interactive experiences online but I found this to be one of the few times when I wanted to go one step further. Imagine the impact of a “scratch and sniff” overlay to engage your sense of smell by enabling you to inhale a whiff of bourbon while experiencing the distillery tour.

"Storytelling possibilities in VR are quickly evolving, as this collaboration with Oculus illustrates. Using React VR to combine 360-degree photos and 2-D videos, with interactivity, allowed us to tell the story of Buffalo Trace Distillery in a completely novel way,” said Robert Padavick, Director of VR and 360-degree video for the USA TODAY NETWORK.

Interactive 360 photo stories delivered within the Facebook newsfeed enable USA TODAY NETWORK to increase sampling of its VR content and concurrently grow audience. Incremental distribution coupled with a recent study by Frank N. Magid Associates, which found that the majority of recent purchasers of VR headsets are “very satisfied” with the performance and 81% of these early adopters are willing to recommend their VR devices to family and friends, bodes well for the Network. 

The timing of this partnership is well orchestrated as season two of USA TODAY NETWORK's VRtually There news series is almost here. To date, VRtually There has over 6 million views. This groundbreaking series encourages viewers to fully immerse themselves in connected environments.  Weekly adventures are delivered in 360° video and virtual reality on YouTube and the USA TODAY App. New partnerships with Oculus and Facebook’s newsfeed ensure incremental exposure and the opportunity for rapid audience development.

As storytelling and technology continue to converge, this medium will gain traction in 360° journalism, non-fiction programming and live events. USA TODAY NETWORK is well-positioned to capture the community connection required for intimate storytelling. Its national footprint ensures the timely delivery of new VR content at scale.

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