Circa, the fastest growing mobile‐friendly, video‐driven news and entertainment brand, announced Wednesday the launch of its Circa 360 initiative that will showcase compelling news and entertainment content shot entirely in virtual reality (VR) while offering advertisers unique 360-degree and branded commercials targeting coveted millennial audiences.
Circa is partnering with MomentumXR, a Hollywood-based VR production company, to air twice-a-week VR newscasts under the Circa 360 brand on Circa.com and its social platforms that will allow consumers to drive their own experiences in this fully immersive 360-degree environment.
All Circa 360 content will afford advertisers the ability to deliver pre-roll ads shot in VR through 360 AdSpots, a 360 and VR ad platform.
Some of the VR news content will be available on the newscasts and websites of the 173 TV stations owned by its parent company, Sinclair Broadcast Group (NASDAQ: SBGI), which reaches 44.3 million households daily.
Circa 360’s initial content can be viewed in VR-friendly Web browsers and will allow consumers to navigate a traditional 360-degree scene or a fully stereoscopic experience with virtual reality goggles. Because some browsers on iOS and other platforms don’t support such viewing right now, Circa plans a release of its Android and iOS apps later this year that will provide a native stereoscopic player for mobile devices.
“A bold new era has arrived for experiential newscasting, where consumers get the keys to drive their own vehicle of self-exploration through an immersive, multimedia rich story. And Circa is thrilled to be partnered with MomentumXR to bring this compelling content to the mobile devices of our millennial audiences,” Circa Chief Creative Officer John Solomon said.
As part of its debut, Circa 360 is releasing its first entertainment offer: a special VR preview for the second season of the Game Show Network’s (“GSN”) horror-themed game show HELLEVATOR, in which a team of three contestants rides a haunted elevator through an abandoned warehouse for a chance to win up to $50,000.
The terrifying VR experience brings viewers inside HELLEVATOR’s abandoned slaughterhouse to glimpse some of the gruesome challenges faced by competitors on the show. Executive producer Jason Blum of Blumhouse Productions and the show’s masterminds, horror film icons Jen and Sylvia Soska, aka the “Twisted Twins,” star in the VR piece and take the consumer on a “virtual ride” inside the most difficult challenge on the show, The Inferno.
The VR/360 HELLEVATOR preview was developed by GSN and MomentumXR for VR headsets and the 360 mobile phone marketplace and will be showcased in a Circa news segment called How Hollywood is using Virtual Reality to drive promotions and marketing of movies and show set to air this week on Sinclair TV newscasts nationwide and Circa’s various platforms.
“Our advertising platform is able to monetize the booming VR and 360 marketplace,” said Jonas Hudson, CEO of Momentum, XR and 360 AdSpots, “Until now, Hollywood has seen VR as a marketing cost. Now, Hollywood can look at their greatest brands in VR and 360 as profit centers.”
Circa and MomentumXR began shooting virtual reality news content late this summer, producing inaugural pieces that took consumers on immersive journeys inside a blimp, on the back of a motorcycle with the Donald Trump bike gang, in the middle of a crowd of a Bernie Sanders political rally and in the front row of a citizenship and naturalization ceremony at The National Park Service’s National World War II Memorial in Washington.
“Journalists have an amazing front row seat to history, and the advent of our virtual reality news platform allows Circa to bring our fans along to experience exactly what we’re recording,” Solomon said.
Circa debuted July 18 and during its first two months has already reached more than 350 million consumers and generated more than 140 million video streams across its various digital platforms.