NowThis News is a free iOS app that attempts to capture the average mobile user’s attention span by providing a more-or-less steady stream of short video news segments, most of which last under a minute each. The app groups segments into seven categories that cover various national and international happenings, and the shortness of the segments lets the producers experiment with content and delivery. When a segment finishes, the user can share it via Facebook, Twitter, or an e-mail — or not, which automatically brings up the next one.
What’s the Big Idea?
NowThis was created by two former Huffington Post executives who appreciate the challenges involved in keeping easily distracted users watching. Two ways to overcome these challenges are keeping the viewing experience passive — by just feeding segments without requiring user input, a technique borrowed from Netflix — and simply putting out well-produced content. The latter will be especially important after the noise surrounding this year’s election quiets down if the app wants to be seen as more than a passing fad.
Its owner, Google, is putting more of its attention (and cash) towards Web-focused networks that can develop premium content that will hold its users for longer periods of time, thereby allowing them to generate more ad revenue.