Streaming Wars

Flipboard launches a subscription service for short videos

“There’s a lot of noise out there. We might be able to do better.”

Claus Enevoldsen, Flipboard's VP of Global Growth and Business Development

Flipboard, one of the top news aggregators, is expanding its video offering. Flipboard TV will showcase professionally-produced short videos for $2.99 a month (after a three-month trial). The service is currently only available on the Samsung Galaxy S20 phones, set to come out on March 6. More than 100 publishers will be a part of the service at launch, spanning vertical topics from business to entertainment.

What to expect — Bloomberg, Rolling Stone, and the New York Times are among the first publishers to be part of the service along with more niche publications and some local news stations. All of the videos will play ad-free and there’s currently no indication of a free, ad-supported version in the future. The videos themselves aren’t unique to Flipboard TV, so the main benefit is skirting ads.

On Galaxy S20 phones, users can access Flipboard TV on the “minus one” screen (left of home), according to Digital Trends. In the future, a TV icon will sit at the bottom of the Flipboard app. Within that tab, “Editor’s Choice” videos will surface and users can curate the publishers as well as topics they’re interested in. Assuming this follows Flipboard’s existing infrastructure, it seems less likely to have the radicalizing power of the YouTube algorithm.

Flipboard TV interface.Flipboard

How does it fit into the streaming wars? — Flipboard brass thinks they’re capturing a niche and they’re not wrong. They have no interest in competing with their publishing partners, so original video isn’t in the pipeline, like Quibi. CEO Mike McCue told Fast Company that Flipboard is “obviously not focused on TV and films” or user-generated video.

“It’s either on social networks and mixed in with user-generated stuff or it’s on your own platform,” said Claus Enevoldsen, vice president of global growth and business development at Flipboard, about the streaming landscape. “There’s something in the middle where we can create a difference and provide a really stellar experience.”

It’s honestly shocking that no one else has created such a narrowly-focused streaming avenue. The publishers don’t have to spend money on new content or filmmaking methods (re: vertical video), Flipboard gets consumer-facing monetization, and users can more easily access videos they’re interested in without ads.