Gannett will use interactive video, audio and augmented reality to engage its USA Today Sports+ premium digital channel with fans.
The publisher has announced launches in seven markets including Arizona, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Indiana, Michigan, Tennessee and Wisconsin, timed with start of the 2021 NFL season.
Gannett says the subscription offering will provides users with an engaging format to “fan harder” as they consume real-time sports news, content, betting odds and insider analysis with reporting from more than 300 local, niche, and national publications across its network.
USA Today recently launched a premium digital subscription model with a goal of reaching ten million subscribers by the end of 2025. The service includes a strategic sports betting agreement with Tipico US, the local sportsbook of Tipico Group, Germany’s leading sports betting provider.
Chairman and chief executive Michael Reed said Gannett was “betting big” on sports.
“We are well positioned to reach our sports audience of over 53 million sports fans and capitalise on our large network of over 500 dedicated sports journalists, offering access and local perspective that is unrivalled,” he said.
A ‘Fan Harder’ campaign will promote the service through mid-November, including radio ads, OOH billboards and banners, a geo-targeted social media campaign with TikTok and Twitter, digital displays and sponsorships at local events. It will be available across desktop, mobile web and a mobile app, providing audio listening features, an insider podcast, homepage customisation, sports gaming insight and odds and premium augmented reality (AR) features.
The first available AR experience will showcase Tennessee Titans super fan, Yolanda Dixon, and Indianapolis Colts super fan, Rick Stevens, “their passion for the game and their team loyalty”. Gannett says the sensory experiences “immerse subscribers in storytelling through multi-surface tracking, geolocation support, and volumetric video support.
Subscribers will have access to a new AR experience monthly, with “industry leading” interactive features, data visualisations, interactive photos and videos with 3D elements and audio experiences.
The product is free for existing digital subscribers of certain Gannett properties in launch markets including the Indianapolis Star, Detroit Free Press and The Enquirer.