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Brief Published: 22 Oct 2015

New York Times Pushes Virtual Reality into Mainstream

Goggle Cardboard VR headset

To increase the accessibility of its latest Virtual Reality (VR) project, The New York Times has partnered with Google to distribute 1.3m Google Cardboard VR headsets.

Following its Walking New York VR experience in April 2015, the news organisation's latest immersive documentary Displaced will be a story of three children caught in a global refugee crisis. The documentary was produced in partnership with VR production company VRSE. Among VRSE's previous works is the VR short Clouds over Sidra, which documented a Syrian refugee camp for the United Nations in January 2015.

Displaced will be released via a free New York Times VR iOS and Android app downloadable from November 5. Meanwhile, the Google Cardboard VR headsets that combine with smartphones running the app to create VR experiences will be included in 1.3m of November 7's New York Times Sunday issues. Further content releases to the New York Times VR app are planned for December 2015 and early 2016.

Other media organisations are also experimenting with VR as a way to give their audiences the broadest possible access to a story. US broadcast news network CNN live-streamed VR footage of the October 13 Democratic debates to owners of the Samsung VR headset, and Time Inc's fashion magazine InStyle filmed its November cover shoot with US actress Drew Barrymore as a VR experience for its readers. With 1.3m fresh sets of hands across many demographics about to receive a VR headset, demand for these experiences will rise.

For more on the impact of VR on consumer engagement, see our Get Real Macro Trend and our coverage from Tribeca Film Festival 2015.