November 10, 2021
Twitter Blue, a paid subscription service letting users 'undo tweets,' arrives in the U.S.
After a year of rumors, waiting and wondering, Twitter is finally launching Blue, a monthly subscription service, in the U.S.
The $2.99 premium service debuting Tuesday on the social media platform provides more customization features including "undo tweets" and a mode that makes reading those long threads of tweets way easier to follow.
"This is just the beginning of the journey, as we think about what's ahead" creating new features that "power users" want, said Sara Beykpour, Twitter's senior director of product management, during a briefing with reporters on Monday.
The arrival of Blue now in the U.S. (and also in New Zealand for $4.49 a month) comes after Twitter tested the premium service in Canada and Australia in June, as the platform continues seeking new lines of revenue. Twitter did not disclose how many Blue subscribers it has.
Within the last year, Twitter has introduced features including Spaces, a response to audio chat hit Clubhouse; Tips, which lets users to send money directly to their favorite accounts and Fleets, where users can share text, photos and videos that disappear in 24 hours, similar to Snapchat.
"We're improving personalization, facilitating conversation, delivering relevant news, and finding new ways to help people get paid on Twitter," CEO Jack Dorsey said in a statement when announcing the company's third-quarter earnings on Oct. 26. With 211 million daily average users, Twitter reported revenue growth of 37% from a year earlier to $1.284 billion.
"This is the greatest opportunity for us in terms of relevance and that drives everything from growth and usage but also to our advertising business," said Dorsey during his earnings call with analysts last month.
Even with all of the alternative revenue streams that Twitter is experimenting with, subscriptions are the one that shows the most promise, said Jasmine Enberg, a senior analyst at research firm eMarketer/Insider Intelligence.
"Subscriptions are a good match for Twitter's use cases, mainly news and current events, and its highly engaged power user base will likely appreciate features that help them organize and follow conversations more easily," Enberg said. "Twitter's value proposition is different from the other major social platforms, so a service like Twitter Blue may be a harder sell elsewhere.
"That said, all of the social platforms are working on ways to augment their ads businesses."
Speaking of ads, Twitter said Blue subscribers also will have ad-free services when visiting select news sites including USA TODAY, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Rolling Stone, and The Hollywood Reporter, among its publishing partners.
Tony Haile, Twitter's senior director of product, told reporters as part of the platform's ongoing "commitment to strengthen and support publishers and a free press," a portion of the revenue from Twitter Blue subscription fees will go directly to publishers within its network.
"Our goal is to help each publishing partner make 50% more per person than they would've made from serving ads to that person," Haile said. "A better experience for readers—and more support for the journalism they care about."
Caroline Harris, vice president of digital distribution at Gannett, the parent company of USA TODAY, shares a similar sentiment.
"We at USA TODAY believe in the importance of evolving access to quality journalism for readers, and innovating to meet audiences' preferences," Harris said in a statement. "Therefore, we're excited to expand our partnership with Twitter and offer our brand and content on Twitter Blue."
While subscriptions are one way that Twitter is attempting to diversify its revenue streams, "advertising will remain its core source of revenue for the foreseeable future," Enberg said.
"We expect Twitter's net US ad revenues, after traffic acquisition costs, to rise by 38.5% to $2.35 billion in 2021," Enberg added.
Other key features of Twitter Blue include:
Access to Twitter Blue Labs lets subscribers test out and share their thoughts on new features before they're available to all users. For example, subscribers can upload and tweet videos up to 10 minutes when they post from twitter.com.
Bookmark Folders lets subscribers organize the Tweets they saved by allowing them "manage content so when you need it, you can find it easily and efficiently." Twitter said.
Undo Tweet allows subscribers to set a customizable timer of up to 30 seconds to click 'Undo' before the Tweet, reply, or thread they sent posts to their timeline. "Correct mistakes easily by previewing what your Tweet will look like before the world can see it," Twitter said.
Top Articles lets subscribers see the most-shared articles among who they follow think are important in the last 24 hours. This gives subscribers a new and complementary way of catching up on the latest on Twitter.
Twitter said additional Blue features include customizable app icons for a user's home screen on their device, color themes for the Twitter app, and access to dedicated subscription customer support.
And Twitter said it is introducing "Custom Navigation," as subscribers can choose what appears in their navigation bar to quickly access "the Twitter destinations they care about most."
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