The rapid increase in the pace of technological development over the last decade has had a profound impact on a variety of industries. The music, movie, television, and even book publishing industries have all gone through – or are still in the middle of – their own little revolutions as they struggle to cope with the effect that the internet and digital media are having on their business model. Perhaps no industry has felt the weight of the digital revolution so much as the news industry.
In the age of the smartphone and the tablet, fewer and fewer people are turning to their television or to traditional print sources for their news. If you’re an iPad user who wants to know what’s going on in the world, odds are you don’t run to a TV and switch on CNN, and you don’t run out and buy a copy of the New York Times. You pull out your iPad and, depending on the immediacy of the story, you check your social network of choice, or you open up a news app, be it an app from a traditional news organization like USA Today, or a news aggregator like Zite or Flipboard.
The problem is, most of those apps rely on text. Many of them incorporate video, but even the apps published by traditionally TV-based news organizations – like CNN – rely heavily on text-based reporting for their smartphone and tablet apps. That creates an interesting gap in the mobile news space. That’s where Newslook comes in.
Newslook is a curated news aggregator focused exclusively on video content. While Newslook has been around on the web for awhile now, they recently broadened their scope to include an app for Apple’s iPad. The app brings all the features users love about Newslook’s homepage to the iPad, and even adds some interesting new features. WebProNews’s Abby Johnson recently spoke to Newslook CEO and founder Fred Silverman about the app and about Newslook in general.
Newslook was born out of Silverman’s growing awareness that the news market was changing. Following a long career in traditional television media, Silverman came to the realization that new technology would allow him to tell a story that would have required an hour of traditional TV in “a matter of minutes.” Silverman told WPN that “when I looked around I realized that there was no video news service as it were.” Even the traditional news channels – Fox, CNN, etc. – have shifted their focus to include more punditry and less actual news. Newslook is designed to fill that gap.
Using his contacts in various media organizations, Silverman struck deals with numerous news organizations including Reuters, AP, and others to create Newslook. The site now includes content from 60 different providers. Newslook’s editorial team sifts through the video content from the providers and selects the best content to go on Newslook. The same team also edits the videos’ metadata to make it easier for users to search for and categorize content.
The iPad app takes the same content from the Newslook website and adds a channel feature that allows users to customize their news experience. Silverman notes that “people like to consume content around things that are interesting to them.” What Newslook for iPad does “is really allow you a platform to create channels around the things that interest you the most.” What’s more, it’s possible to share your channels with the rest of Newslook’s users. The app had 5,000 channels at launch, and is continually growing. What’s more, the variety of topics is quite broad. As Silverman points out, “it’s a news app, but we define news in a pretty broad way.”
Silverman goes on to say that one of Newslook’s strengths is its focus on video and on premium content. Newslook, Silverman says, is for people who want to see the news. What separates Newslook from other video services like YouTube is that while YouTube is just a platform for video, “we’re more of an editorial company.” There’s very little user-generated content on Newslook. It’s nearly all premium content from Newslook’s provider partners. What’s more, not everyone can be one of Newslook’s partners. Silverman says that they hand-pick providers, and that “we’re very careful about who we work with” because they “very much believe in the quality of premium content.
That’s not to say that Newslook’s content is all that limited, though. There are currently 44,000 videos in Newslook’s archive.
Moving forward, you can expect to see Newslook on a growing variety of platforms. In addition to the iPad app, they also have a Google TV app. When asked what’s next for Newslook, Silverman said that the next step would be an improved second-generation iPad app. The channel approach, he said, is new for Newslook, and they’re paying close attention to user feedback in order to make sure they get it right. Beyond that, he sees iPhone and Android versions coming over the next year or so.