The climate leading up to Donald Trump’s inauguration this Friday has been contentious at best. While Democrats, celebrities and several Rockettes are planning to boycott the event, USA Today Network is embracing the celebration to showcase its live virtual reality technology.
Beginning at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, USA Today will live stream the presidential inauguration in Washington, D.C., in VR and 360 degrees. The company has partnered with Nikon to use KeyMission 360 cameras for the swearing-in. Five cameras will be positioned at the Capitol, the National Mall and along the parade route to allow 360-degree live streaming via in-camera stitching.
Designed for viewing with VR headsets, the live stream will be available on the USA Today channel in the YouTube app. For desktop and mobile, the 360-degree live stream will also be available on YouTube.
The inauguration will be the first live stream content for USA Today’s "VRtually There," an ad-supported weekly virtual reality news show launched in October. Since its debut, the show has received more than 5 million views.
"We are pioneers in VR journalism, giving our readers access to unique events and experiences that they may not otherwise have the opportunity to travel to," said Russ Torres, VP of video content at USA Today Network, in an emailed statement. "It therefore makes sense that we continue to use cutting-edge technology to bring this historic event to our readers, placing them in a location as if they were physically there."
Unlike previous branded VR stories for "VRtually There," the inauguration show will not have any advertised brand partners. While some brands like Pepsi, Nordstrom, New Balance and most recently, L.L. Bean, have faced boycotts from groups believing they have aligned with a political party, Michael Kuntz, SVP of digital at USA Today Network, said the media outlet is simply not ready to attach live stream VR content to advertisements.
"Since this is our first live stream VR experience, our priority is the content and technology that will power the experience for our audience," said Kuntz in an emailed statement. "As we continue to experiment with live VR, we will be looking for brand partnerships and exploring what those opportunities could look like."