Virtual reality case study: New York Times takes news to a new generation

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In a world of declining print sales, how can a 165 –year-old news brand reach the next generation of readers? This case study looks at how trhe New York Times expanded into virtual reality with a little help from sponsors General Electric and Mini.

Case Study Summary

• News brand turns to VR to win Gen Z readers with immersive documentary series

• Distributed Google Cardboard sets to its 1.1 million print subscribers

• NYT VR recorded over 1.5 million views with an average of 6 minutes engagement time per session.

The challenge

With Snapchat Stories, Facebook Instant Articles and Twitter eating into traditional newspaper’s market share, the New York Times needed to find a new way to win over millennial news readers. Virtual Reality was an opportunity to put people into news stories like never before.

The solution

Executed by T Brand Studio for The New York Times, NYT VR is a platform that will delivered a series of virtual reality short films over the year.

The New York Times launched the virtual reality app on Google Play and the Apple App Store. To promote the app, it shipped out Google Cardboard viewers to its 1.1 million print subscribers.

The app's first film "The Displaced," follows the lives of three refugee children from South Sudan, eastern Ukraine, and Syria. It was produced in partnership with Vrse, the biggest player in VR documentary filmmaking and one of the best-known VR film companies — among other things, it previously helped Vice launch its VR news coverage.

Advertising partners GE and Mini also used the app to debut their own 306 videos.

The results

The app was downloaded over half a million times and 1.3 million Google Cardboard sets were distributed. NYT VR recorded over 1.5 million views with an average of 6 minutes enagement time per session.

The campaign claimed the mobile Grand Prix at Cannes Lions 2016. “It went beyond the initial wow factor to unlock levels of empathy and excitement no other medium could,” said Jury President, Malcolm Poynton, Global Chief Creative Officer, Cheil Worldwide.

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