The virtual reality space continues to experience tremendous growth, sparked primarily by shipments of millions of affordable Google Cardboard headsets over the last 12-18 months. While the higher-end segment of the market is just beginning to take off by way of the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, it’s the lower-end market which seems to be pushing developers and content creators to produce an ever-expanding array of mobile VR games and experiences. In fact there have already been multiple cases in which media companies have given away hundreds of thousands of cheap VR headsets to their subscribers as a way to entice them to download specific VR mobile applications. The New York Times sent out approximately 1 million Google Cardboard devices to their print subscribers late last year, while the Times of India did a similar promotion earlier this month.
It now appears as if the success of their first promotion has persuaded the New York Times to partake in yet another free Google Cardboard giveaway, this time for 300,000 of their most loyal online subscribers. The media giant will reportedly choose those online subscribers who have been paying for a subscription the longest, in an effort to further push their mobile VR application onto smartphones across the country. The application allows users to view a number of virtual reality productions presented by the the media giant, including the latest, ‘Seeking Pluto’s Frigid Heart,’ which will debut on May 19th. This latest production will be based on data collected from the New Horizons spacecraft, which recently traveled past Pluto.
“It was a lot easier to do a million print subscribers, simply because we were already in their house Sunday afternoons,” said New York Times senior editor, Sam Dolnick. “We’re starting with this first batch of our longest, most loyal subscribers, and then we’ll see if there’s other appetite and opportunities down the road.”
Regardless of whether or not you are a NYT paid subscriber, as long as you have a Google Cardboard or similar headset, you can watch all of their, soon to be eight different productions, via the NYT VR applications on both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. Virtual reality is changing the way we consume media and this change will only get deeper as time rolls on by.
“In traditional magazine journalism, often somebody comes up with an idea and the editors will say, ‘That’s a great world, but there’s no story,'” explained Dolnick. “And now in VR, it feels like it’s a little bit flipped. The editors will say, ‘Well, that’s a neat story. But we really need a world.'”
With 300,000 additional Google Cardboard headsets entering the VR ecosystem, we can all be certain that an even greater demand for useful games and experiences will force new and exciting content to be produced in the months ahead. Are you one of the NYT subscribers set to receive a free headset? Let us know in the Free Google Cardboard forum on VRTalk.com.