Flipboard TV is like YouTube, but with fewer misleading thumbnails

There's still a paid version reserved for Samsung users, but the product had to introduce a free version if it hoped to challenge the incumbents.

Back in March, Flipboard launched Flipboard TV, a paid, premium video subscription service exclusive to the Samsung Galaxy S20 smartphone. Unsurprisingly, the fanfare was subdued, if not inaudible. Today, that product is finding its way into Flipboard across all devices and platforms in a free, ad-supported form. It's YouTube, but from Flipboard, and with the curation the brand made its name from.

Hundreds of publishers and content creators now have a new place to try to get videos to a wider audience. At least, that's Flipboard's take. An alternative is that video creators now have another platform to consider should it prove worth the effort. Flipboard's of the view its local news coverage, as well as the evergreen-centric Storyboard feature it's known for, will attract creators. We wouldn't be sad if it's right. We're just cautiously optimistic. Because taking on YouTube or Facebook Video is hard. If it wasn't, everyone would be doing it.

What is Flipboard TV? — The discovery pathways for video are comparable to what Flipboard app users are accustomed to for articles. Those users with any recent Samsung Galaxy device will find a dedicated Flipboard TV tab in their app with sections for Editor’s Picks, videos catering to a user’s pre-defined interests, trending content, categories, and fare from individual publishers.

A tube, for you — “We've got a large team looking at all these videos every day and figuring out which ones are the most compelling, the most informative from a diverse range of publishers,” says Brian Gottesman, head of video and monetization products at Flipboard.

Consuming video on Flipboard TV will be familiar to anyone who's used YouTube. Videos play in the top third of the screen, additional related content appears below it, and there's the option to enter a full-screen mode.

Users can keep flipping through videos and follow publishers, creators, and topics to better curate the material they're offered. Flipboard TV’s publishing partners have grown since launch, including players from the old guard like Gannett (USA Today) and newer kids on the block like Group Nine Media (Thrillist and NowThis).


“We're here to win with content creators. It's only when they succeed that we succeed,” says Claus Enevoldsen, Flipboard’s vice president of global growth and business development, who declined to share specifics on the ad revenue split with publishers. “I think we're a pretty unique place on the internet where we really put their content first.”

Exclusives at launch — Independent, premium content creators like Vox’s Johnny Harris and YouTuber Gene Nagata of Potato Jet will also join the ranks of big-name publishers. This embrace of independent creators is expected to fill in the gaps of informational videos people gravitate towards beyond straight news. To this end, Flipboard TV videos can form part of Storyboard collections — a product launched earlier this year as a way to package a finite number of largely evergreen, related articles. Videos will also supplement the platform’s expanding local news offerings, which have proven to be a significant aspect of Samsung users’ Flipboard TV beta experience.

“A big part of what we did with Flipboard TV is we onboarded a lot of local content and that's something that our users really needed,” says Enevoldsen, before touching on current affairs like the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Black Lives Matter protests and California's wildfires. “Flipboard is really shining because we're bringing the information to the forefront, and we're packaging it up for our users to pursue.”

All of this sounds great. But then, Vimeo sounds great. Heck, it looks great too. Will Flipboard TV's focus on separating the video wheat from the chaff be enough to challenge YouTube's dominance of the online video space? It's way too early to tell. But we'll be watching. If not actual video on Flipboard TV, then at least announcements about the service's progress.

Input’s parent company Bustle Digital Group is a Flipboard TV publishing partner.