NY Times Bets Big on Virtual Reality

By Chris O'Shea Comment

Screen Shot 2016-03-15 at 9.44.44 AMFor most people, virtual reality is an obscure tech — out of reach and mostly uninteresting. However, that’s not stopping The New York Times from going all in. In fact, that’s exactly one reason the paper is investing so much time and cash in NYT VR, its virtual reality division.

During this year’s SXSW, Times CEO Mark Thompson told Politico “The prize for us as a company, it’s about, can we get right out there on the edge of what’s possible. It’s [VR] one of the most exciting things, one of the most buzzy things we’ve done.”

Associate digital editor Sam Dolnick said “Just about every desk is pitching stories on VR.” NY Times Mag editor Jake Silverstein explained “The promise of VR is that nothing gets left out, the viewer gets to be there.”

Getting out on the frontier of tech is all well and good, but what makes VR special is the ad dollars it could possibly generate.

While NYT VR has only created seven consumer films, it has already produced six branded films. VR movies for Mini and GE fetched the Times $1.5 million for each. That’s not a bad start, and definitely a reason to continue.

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