7 platforms who became publishers in 2016

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In 2016 Tumblr got angry

If there was always a suspicion that it would happen eventually, this year it was confirmed: in 2016 platforms from Facebook to Snapchat, Twitter to Tumblr, all took significant steps towards becoming fully blown publishers. Here are 7 things that happened this year that swung it.

1. Facebook starts commissioning video

You would struggle to miss the stories this year that Facebook was employing journalists to curate its Trending Topics section (and claims of bias), that Facebook fired the team and that they faced a new ‘fake news’ problem. But perhaps a more significant move was that the company was commissioning over $50 million of content for its site from dozens of media companies and celebrities.

PCMag pointed out that:

“The story says Facebook is paying BuzzFeed, the New York Times, CNN, the Huffington Post, Vox, NPR, Vice, and Al Jazeera. No right-wing publications (such as Fox or Breitbart) or far left-wing publications (such as US Uncut or The Nation) are included.”

Meanwhile (added Dec 12 2016)…


2. Instagram gets in on the action

In July it was announced that Facebook and NBC had done a deal to show Olympics highlights on the platform. Notably, the deal included content on Instagram too.

3. Twitter has had an NFL moment

In April Twitter paid $10 million for the rights to stream 10 National Football League games.

Bloomberg reported Jack Dorsey expressing his intentions to seek out options for events that are live, “events that we can all gather around”.

Amanda Lotz noted that the deal had other implications too:

“A big advantage is that programmers gather a lot more information about viewers that watch on Twitter than by broadcast or cable. Knowing more about who your viewers are and how they watch can be valuable to advertisers.”

4. Snapchat starts a magazine, launches channels, sponsors film makers

2015 saw Snapchat launching, closing, then relaunching channels and stories on its platform.

This year Snapchat joined with the Tribeca Film Festival to sponsor a competition for film makers to use Snapchat to make films, publishing the best work on Snapchat itself in April.

At the end of June Snapchat launched online technology magazine Real Life. It wasn’t on Snapchat.

But most interesting was the move to “give publishers a flat fee against their ads, and then collect and keep all revenue for itself.” In other words, become a commissioner of content.

Meanwhile… (Update 12 Dec 2016):

5. YouTube is bankrolling movies and TV shows

Well, you knew that already. But it would be remiss not to mention that last year it announced that it was “setting up TV-style production deals with some of its most popular creators, as well as entering movie production partnership with AwesomenessTV.”

6. Medium has been acquiring and commissioning content from the start, but it stepped up in 2016

Medium was always a platisher: in 2013, while still in closed beta, it acquired the longform reporting site Matter; in 2014 it hired tech writer Steven Levy; in 2015 it commissioned its first video series and partnered with Esquire magazine to create a sponsored publication. In April it stepped up a gear: courting publishers with custom tools and “two new ways that publishers can opt in to earn revenue on Medium”: promoted stories; and membership.

7. Tumblr decides it’s time to take action

The day after the US election result Tumblr woke up angry, and announced it is “time to take action”.

“With Action on Tumblr, we’ll be handing the megaphone to the marginalized and letting them speak for themselves. In fact, right at this very moment you can ask an undocumented immigrant about her experiences, advice, concerns, hopes—anything—and so far her answers are a hell of a read.”

Giving a voice to the voiceless? Perhaps they know something that we don’t.

PS: In rounding these developments up, I remembered that I’d mentioned some of them in April, when I wrote ‘What next? How the news media can respond to losing‘, an attempt to come up with solutions to the new competition that publishers are up against.


3 thoughts on “7 platforms who became publishers in 2016

  1. Pingback: 7 platforms who became publishers in 2016 | Online Journalism Blog | do not drop the ball

  2. Pingback: Someone asked me about 2016 and 2017. This is what I said | Online Journalism Blog

  3. Pingback: I’ve got a new book out — it’s all about Mobile-First Journalism (the clue’s in the title) | Online Journalism Blog

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