In recent months, Gannett’s USA Today has been shifting some of its content behind paywalls and looking for fresh ways to monetize its reporting. In July, they announced their new paywall, separating their content between a regular digital subscription, an ad-free digital subscription, and a print subscription with regular digital access.
Tuesday, Gannett announced the next step with the launch of USA Today Sports+, a premium digital subscription product in select local markets. Per the announcement, Sports+ will give subscribers the ability to customize the experience and how they interact with USA Today’s content. Along with the usual reporting and analysis, the service is set to include interactive features such as SMS texting with reporters and columnists as well as live group chats.
The announcement also notes that subscribers will have access to a “monthly augmented reality experience,” which includes interactive features, data visualizations, interactive photos, and videos with 3D elements and audio.
Our latest augmented reality project is the first of a series that's all about the fans. Meet die-hard NFL superfans Yolanda Dixon and Rick Stevens. Built exclusively for @USATSportsPlus. pic.twitter.com/bmwJTvC2Vq
— Ray Soto (@RaySotoTech) September 7, 2021
Audio elements in the service include the “It’s a Football Podcast!” from NFL insiders as well as audio options for listening to articles.
One of those insiders will be Josina Anderson, who was announced as a senior NFL insider for the service.
News: NFL insider Josina Anderson, formerly of ESPN, has been hired by USA TODAY to help launch Sports+, the company's new premium subscription product. Anderson will be a senior NFL insider.
— Mark J. Burns (@markjburns88) September 7, 2021
Anderson previously worked for ESPN before launching her own podcast, Undefined With Josina Anderson. Per a tweet, Anderson noted that the podcast will be part of the offerings as well as a “brand new show.”
Kind. Happy to be welcomed by @USATSportsPlus and to license 'Undefined with Josina Anderson' and a brand new show to come for the @USATODAY Sports O.T.T. streaming service. Stay Tuned. https://t.co/bvHMSodBXP
— IG: JosinaAnderson (@JosinaAnderson) September 7, 2021
According to the site, sports reporter Tyler Dragon and NFL insider Safid Deen are also part of the Sports+ team. Alicia Del Gallo is the managing editor.
Gambling information will also be integrated into the premium service in the form of odds, gaming data, and real-time NFL game info. Gannett recently inked a five-year partnership with sports betting company Tipico.
Users will be able to access Sports+ through their desktop computer, phone, or via an app.
The markets that Gannett has identified for testing Sports+ include Arizona, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Indiana, Michigan, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. Monthly subscribers will get the first three months for free and then it’s $2.99 per month for 12 months. There’s also an annual premium subscription option that offers three months for free followed by $29.99 per year. The premium service will already be free for current digital subscribers of select Gannett publications in the aforementioned markets.
“The amount of work put into this project is inspiring. From my content team to the product, marketing, PR, growth, newsletters, augmented reality, podcast and video teams, along with editors and writers in local markets — the list goes on — it was a holistic collaboration unlike any I’ve seen before,” Sports+ managing editor Alicia DelGallo said in the announcement. “And the work isn’t even close to done. We have more features, more coverage, and more innovation already underway.”