News curation app and Flipboard competitor Pulse is introducing new video channels today, designed to give users access to short, easy-to-digest clips from the same kinds of publishing partners that have helped it gain so many users and so much engagement on the text side of its business. At launch, Pulse will have 30 such partners, but the company hopes to ramp things up quickly and bring many more on board.
Video is an interesting route for Pulse to explore, but not necessarily a surprising one. Many of the publishers that Pulse works with are pushing video content both internally and in their marketing and outreach efforts, so it’s a natural extension of the news aggregator’s business model. And it’ll help Pulse tap into the growing interest in online video, which is experiencing some of its biggest gains in the realm of mobile.
“We asked ourselves, ‘How can we get some of the best video content out there and make it part of Pulse?’,” Pulse co-founder Akshay Kothari said in an interview. “This is just the beginning because we’re planning to do a lot more here.” Stories featured in the video channels of Pulse’s launch partners will all have video, but they may also have accompanying text and articles, too, providing more than your average video discovery app.
The new video channels give Pulse better positioning in terms of helping the startup keep up with the changing nature of online news media, and should also help it bridge the gap between what people watch on their televisions and what they watch on the web and mobile devices. Users of the Pulse app can throw video up to their TVs via AirPlay and an Apple TV, but the content that Pulse is going for from partners is mostly designed to be timely, bite-sized clips, since that’s what users seem to be most interested in consuming on mobile.
“One of the things we noticed when we looked at the data, was that there are publications that did video, particularly ones that are 2-5 minutes in length, that did really well in Pulse,” Kothari said. “People were really engaged with that content, and are becoming more so over time.”
While a video focus could seem to put Pulse in competition with online video discovery and sharing services like Showyou, Kothari thinks that isn’t really the case, since Pulse’s model is about a very specific kind of video, one that works best when placed in context with other news and text content.
“We’re still extremely focused on content you can get from publishers,” he said. “Sports is a big focus. So if you missed the basketball game last night, you can watch highlights of that on ESPN. So it’s still focused on events that are going on a day-to-day basis, and how you can use Pulse to get caught up on what’s happened in the last 24 hours.”
Adding video also presents Pulse with additional revenue opportunities, although Kothari characterized that as a welcome but secondary benefit of the new video endeavor, and not its focus. Instead, he said the company hopes to build a comprehensive library of online video sources, and essentially become a digital newspaper with a dedicated video section pulling from the best content sources. It’s a nice addition, and one that could help Pulse further differentiate its self from the competition.