The New York Times to Deliver 300K Google Cardboard Viewers to Digital Subscribers

In partnership with Google, The New York Times will distribute 300,000 Google Cardboard viewers to its most loyal digital subscribers next month in conjunction with the publication of “Seeking Pluto’s Frigid Heart,” a stereoscopic virtual reality experience that brings viewers to Pluto.

The New York Times’s film allows the viewer to fly over Pluto, soaring above never-before-seen rugged mountains and bright plains, and stand on Pluto’s unique surface as its largest moon hovers over the horizon.

The New York Times worked with the Lunar and Planetary Institute and the Universities Space Research Association to build accurate three-dimensional virtual worlds from data collected last year by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft.

The film was narrated by science reporter Dennis Overbye and produced by Jonathan Corum, Graham Roberts, Yuliya Parshina-Kottas and Evan Grothjan from The New York Times graphics desk. The original music was scored by Graham Roberts and performed by Jessica Ferri, Mio Kanehara, Daniel Ambe and Nobuki Momma, who were recorded using a 360° microphone to allow the sound to travel with the viewer’s movements.

Digital-only subscribers selected for this distribution were chosen based on the duration of their subscriptions. As part of the collaboration with Google, The Times delivered one million Google Cardboard viewers to home delivery subscribers in November 2015. The cardboard viewers are simple to use and allows anyone to experience virtual reality with a smartphone.

“Seeking Pluto’s Frigid Heart” will publish on May 19 in the NYT VR app, which is free and available for download in the Google Play and iOS App Stores. The app now supports video streaming. The NYT VR app has had more than 600,000 downloads since it debuted in November 2015. Users can also go to the NYT YouTube channel to view the video or visit other immersive virtual reality content.