Twitter brings $3 ‘Twitter Blue’ subscriptions to the US
Twitter is expanding its premium subscription service to more users. Twitter Blue, which unlocks additional features like the ability to “undo” a tweet or browse news without ads, is now available to users in the United States ($2.99/month) and New Zealand ($4.49/month).
The service is designed to appeal to Twitter’s most dedicated power users, with the kind of specialized features that have sometimes appeared in third-party Twitter clients. For example, Twitter Blue comes with an “undo” feature that’s likely the closest thing to an edit button the company will ever make.
A subscription also buys several new customization tools, including the ability to rearrange which features appear as shortcuts in the app’s navigation bar, or the option to choose new color themes and app icons. Subscriptions also buy you early access to new features as Twitter tests them out. For now that includes video upload up to 10 minutes long (videos are capped at 2 minutes for non-paying users) and the ability to pin conversations to the top of your DM inbox. These experimental features “might eventually become available to the rest of Twitter, graduate to a feature of Twitter Blue, or sunset based on feedback we hear from subscribers,” the company says.
Notably, the latest iteration of Twitter Blue also comes with two new features powered by the company’s recent acquisition of Scroll, a startup that partnered with publishers to offer ad-free content. Twitter Blue subscribers are now able to access ad-free articles from more than 300 publishers, including The Atlantic, BuzzFeed and Rolling Stone.
It’s somewhat similar to Google’s AMP or Facebook’s Instant Articles in that articles are meant to load quickly and cleanly. But unlike those programs, where readers are directed to stripped down article pages, Twitter Blue articles will still open directly on the publisher’s website. Tony Haile, the former Scroll CEO who now is the senior director of longform at Twitter, says the company is trying to build “win-win partnerships” with publishers who retain “complete control of the experience.”
Though the company hasn’t disclosed the terms of these arrangements, a portion of each Twitter Blue subscription goes directly to publishers, Haile said. And subscribers will also get access to a dashboard in the Twitter app that breaks down your news-reading habits and how much revenue your clicks are bringing to the publishers you read most often. “Our goal is to help each publishing partner make 50% more per person than they would’ve made from serving ads to that person.” Twitter writes in a blog post.
Finally, Twitter Blue comes with a “top articles” feature that brings in some functionality from the niche but highly regarded news app Nuzzel, which was shuttered earlier this year. Like the original app, the new “top articles” feature will curate a list of the top stories shared by people in your Twitter network over the last 24 hours. (Former Nuzzel fans will be happy to learn they can pin the new “top articles” section directly to their nav bar from the in-app settings menu.)
The expansion of Twitter Blue comes amid a broader shift for the company, which has been shaking up many of its core features for the first time in its 15-year history. Elsewhere, the company has embraced creator-centric features like Super Follows and Ticketed Spaces, and is building out a newsletter platform. Twitter Blue is different, though, because the company is hoping to draw in its most hardcore users rather than attract new voices to its platform.
But it’s unclear just how many of those users will be willing to pay for those extra features. The company has been testing Twitter Blue in Australia and Canada since early June, but hasn’t shared on early adoption or other metrics for the service, Twitter said Tuesday it will continue to add new features and will be paying close attention to user feedback.
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