started a new interview series on ReadWriteWeb, focused on web product innovation. We began with a product that aims to change the way people consume news on mobile devices: Newsy. In part 2 of this interview with founder and CEO Jim Spencer, we delve into Newsy's audience and how that's evolving, what's next for the product, and its plan for an important emerging platform: Internet TV.Yesterday we
Newsy produces 2-5 minute video summaries of news, piecing together content from multiple sources. It's proven to be a hit on smart phones and more recently on the iPad. Imagine then the possibilities for Newsy on Apple TV, Google TV and other Internet TV devices coming onto the market.
"We're all over it," said Jim Spencer when I asked him about Internet TV. He told me that Newsy already has working relationships with both Google and Apple. "Those relationships range from advertising sales - including AdMob and iAd - to developer partnerships, where we're working to get the earliest SDKs that we possibly can."
As with any new platform it builds on, Spencer said that Newsy is "building features unique to [each] platform." Newsy has a generalized set of features, but also unique features for the different usage patterns they see on each device.
Newsy is already researching Google TV and Apple TV to see "what we need to do in order to be ahead of the game." It's important to Newsy to aim high, because Jim Spencer sees the value proposition for younger news brands (like itself) as being able to "innovate on those platforms and build relevant content and features that really make it work."
Who is Newsy's Target Audience?
Newsy obviously hopes that its product will go mainstream over time, but I asked if Newsy is targeting a particular audience currently - early adopters, or a certain type of news consumer?
Spencer replied that people who initially bought the iPad would likely have been early adopters. However, he said that iPad owners are "becoming more of a mainstream audience." Newsy got really good adoption amongst early adopters of the iPad, said Spencer, and that has since spread to a more mainstream audience as the device has become more distributed.
The audience that Newsy targets is primarily men and women in the 25-54 age group. Spencer said that although people usually think of online or mobile video as a younger person's space, Newsy is seeing an audience that is "growing older" as the devices get more accepted.
The company is "extremely interested" in the 18-34 age group, however Spencer said that news tends to skew "a tad bit older" and to an educated and affluent group.
The Future of Newsy
Currently Newsy publishes about 10-12 videos per day, but it's looking to increase that over new verticals as the audience becomes more mainstream. The company is going to make a "deeper investment in editorial" to help it scale up.
I asked Jim Spencer what he's most excited about in terms of where Newsy is headed? He replied that there are "huge growth opportunities to really help re-define what news is [...] on these amazing devices." He mentioned sharing, customization and personalization as three defining features.
"News for people on the go is a little bit different from destination Sunday newspaper," he remarked. "You learn something new every day, the innovation that's happening in this space is so fast and so remarkable - it's great to participate in."
Jim Spencer is keeping a close eye on Google TV, Apple TV, Android tablets and "everything that's moving." His goal is for Newsy "to be ahead of the game and deliver innovative services that really make those devices sing."
We're interested to know what innovative news products you, dear reader, are using currently. Tell us in the comments.