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Huffington Post acquires virtual reality studio RYOT

AOL’s the Huffington Post has acquired virtual reality studio RYOT that will see it experiment with virtual reality and 360° video to build out its video offering and find new ways to engage with its growing global audience.

The publisher announced the sale earlier this week in a blog post by co-founder and editor-in-chief Arianna Huffington.

Sources confirmed to TechCrunch the sale was priced between $10m to $15m and that the company had secured “a little more than $3m” in Series A funding prior to the purchase.

The studio will produce films to be shown across all of Huffington Post’s 15 international editions, and will also be providing their services to other companies under the AOL umbrella, it was reported.

The studio is also set to create specialized content for partnered brands through AOL’s Partner Studio.

“As anyone who’s ever experienced VR on a headset or 360 video on your phone knows, the possibilities are powerful,” Huffington said. “And RYOT brings all the tech know-how that make these experiences possible.”

RYOT was founded in 2012 by Bryn Mooser and David Darg, beginning with a simple mission to “link every news story to an action” Mooser said.

“We wanted to make the news empowering rather than depressing. To turn people on by what was happening around them rather than turn them off,” said Bryn Mooser, co-founder of RYOT. “Throughout RYOT’s journey, we searched for the next technology to bring us closer into the story and we found virtual reality.”

It comes as more publishers are jumping on the VR bandwagon to provide readers with a more immersive experience and open up a potential new revenue stream for selling ads.

Condé Nast and Vice Media are among the publishers experimenting with the storytelling element of the technology, both set to release virtual reality series over the next few months.

Viceland and Samsung unveiled a major partnership last month that will see the creation of new virtual reality content for both platforms. It will see big names in film, music and gaming creating VR projects for Samsung Milk VR, Samsung's virtual reality content service which is exclusive to the Samsung Gear VR headset.

The New York Times was one of the first news organisations to embrace virtual reality with the launch of a mobile storytelling app capable of simulating immersive environments.

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Jessica Goodfellow

The Drum's media reporter covering everything from publishing, TV, social media, radio and technology.

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