Gannett Co., the parent company of USA TODAY, announced the launch of USA TODAY Sports+, a new, premium digital subscription product in select local markets that allows users to customize their experience with different immersive content options.
Aside from news reporting and analysis, Sports+ will offer unique interactive features like SMS texting with reporters and columnists and live group chats.
The seven markets in which Sports+ is launching are Arizona, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Indiana, Michigan, Tennessee and Wisconsin. The timing of the launch, which was announced Tuesday, coincides with the start of the 2021 NFL season.
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“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.
“And the work isn’t even close to done. We have more features, more coverage and more innovation already underway.”
Gannett also announced that it hired veteran reporter Josina Anderson, who previously became ESPN’s first female NFL insider in 2015, as a senior NFL insider to launch Sports+.
Sports+ will be available through desktop, mobile and an app. Among the available features are audio capabilities for articles to be listened to, the “It’s a Football Podcast!” from NFL insiders, homepage customization, sports gaming insight and odds and augmented reality features.
Subscribers will have access to a monthly augmented reality experience, which will tell stories through interactive features, data visualizations, interactive photos and videos with 3D elements and audio.
Gannett’s exclusive sports betting partnership with Tipico will also be integrated into Sports+ content through odds, gaming data and real-time NFL scoreboards.
Sports+ will be free for current digital subscribers of select Gannett publications in the launch markets, such as the Indianapolis Star and the Detroit Free Press. Users can subscribe through the Sports+ app, or through the Sports+ website. Gannett will offer a three-month free trial.
“Gannett is betting big on sports,” Gannett chairman and CEO Michael Reed said Tuesday 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 that is unrivaled.
“Our strategic agreement with Tipico, our incredible sports journalism and our USA TODAY Network footprint will ensure Sports+ engages our existing subscriber base, attracts new audiences as we provide exclusive content, experiences and product offerings so fans can literally fan harder.”