The New York Times will send one million virtual reality (VR) viewers to the subscribers of its print edition next month to promote its new NYT VR initiative. The paper will also give away viewers to select digital subscribers, and make its NYT app available for free download in early November.
The app, which will be available for both iPhones and Android phones, will debut with a video about refugee children that was produced in conjunction with VR studio VRSE. The app itself was developed by VR startup IM360.
“Our Magazine team has created the first critical, serious piece of journalism using virtual reality, to shed light on one of the most dire humanitarian crises of our lifetime,” said New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet about the video.
The Times is slated to release additional VR films in the coming months. It also got advertisers like GE and Mini to support the app with their own immersive ad clips.
The viewers given away by the New York Times are based on Google’s Cardboard initiative, and make use of consumer’s cell phones as displays. Google first debuted Cardboard in 2014, and some first suspected it to be an elaborate joke about Facebook spending $2 billion for Oculus. But Cardboard potentially reaching millions of consumers by the end of this year, the cheap headset has clearly helped Google to take a lead in virtual reality.