When USA Today launched in 1980, it revolutionized the newspaper industry by offering a national paper targeting local markets. The venerable media company is now playing catch-up with a new over-the-top video service, called USA Today Sports+.
Parent Gannett Sept. 7 said the platform enables subscribers to curate and customize their local sports experience with immersive content, including interactive video, audio and augmented reality features.
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USA Today Sports+ launches in seven markets, including Arizona, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Indiana, Michigan, Tennessee and Wisconsin to complement the start of the 2021 National Football League season.
The product is free for existing digital subscribers of select Gannett properties in launch markets, includingThe Indianapolis Star, Detroit Free Press and The Enquirer. New users can subscribe via the USA Today Sports+ App or directly on the website and receive a three-month free trial. Non-subscribers can access three non-premium articles and view the first AR experience. Registered users can access all non-premium articles and also view the first AR experience.
The subscription streams real-time sports news, reporting, content, betting odds, and insider analysis from more than 300 local, niche, and national publications across the USA Today network. Subscribers will also have access to SMS texting and live group chats.
USA Today recently launched a branded digital subscription model with a goal to reach 10 million subscribers by the end of 2025. Gannett also entered into a sports betting agreement with Tipico U.S., the U.S.-based sportsbook of Tipico Group Ltd. in Germany. Tipico will provide odds integration and live, real-time NFL scoreboards and gaming data across USA Togay Sports+.
“Gannett is betting big on sports,” Gannett CEO Michael Reed said in a statement. “We are well positioned to reach our sports audience of over 53 million sports fans and capitalize on our large network of over 500 dedicated sports journalists, offering access and local perspective.”
Gannett is marketing the sports SVOD through mid-November with a campaign dubbed “Fan Harder.” The campaign includes radio ads, out-of-home billboards and banners, a geo-targeted social media campaign with TikTok and Twitter, digital displays and sponsorships at local events.
USA Today Sports+ is also providing subscribers with “Hear This Story” audio features, “It’s a Football Podcast!” original insider podcast, homepage customization, sports gaming insight and odds.
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. These 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, delivering industry leading interactive features, data visualizations, interactive photos and videos with 3D elements and audio experiences.
Finally, Josina Anderson, an NFL expert and veteran with over 20 years of experience, is joining USA Today Sports+ as a senior NFL insider. Anderson is the creator and host of “Undefined With Josina Anderson” and “The Crew.” She previously worked for ESPN and was named the network’s first female national NFL insider in 2015.