Twitter Buys Scroll, Subscription Service That Strips Ads Out of News Articles

Todd Spangler
·2 min read

Twitter is continuing down the path of adding new subscription services to diversify its revenue beyond ads.

On Tuesday, the social network announced that it acquired Scroll, a company that has sold a $5-per-month subscription that lets users read articles on participating news sites without ads — and shares some of that revenue with the publishers.

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Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. Scroll had raised $10 million from investors including the New York Times, Samsung, Bertelsmann, Axel Springer, Union Square Ventures and Gannett.

“Scroll gives readers what they want: clutter-free reading across the web, and publishers what they need: a way to make more money than they would through ads on their site,” Mike Park, Twitter’s VP of product, tweeted Tuesday.

To date, the bulk of Twitter’s revenue has been from advertising, but the company is looking to diversify through new subscription services. In January, it acquired Revue, a startup that lets writers self-publish subscription newsletters. Twitter plans to integrate Revue with the core social platform; for example, by letting people sign up for newsletters from Twitter accounts they follow or letting writers host real-time conversations with subscribers.

In addition, another forthcoming Twitter subscription product is Super Follows, which will let users and publishers earn money from followers who pay them to get exclusive content or other perks. Twitter outlined Super Follows and other new initiatives at its analyst day in February.

“Looking ahead, Scroll will become a meaningful addition to our subscriptions work as we build and shape a future subscription service on Twitter,” Park wrote in a blog post about the deal. “As a Twitter subscriber, picture getting access to premium features where you can easily read articles from your favorite news outlet or a writer’s newsletter from Revue, with a portion of your subscription going to the publishers and writers creating the content.”

Scroll will temporarily suspend new signups but Twitter will continue to support the existing community of customers and publishers using Scroll. New publishers interested in joining Scroll can sign up on their website for the latest updates.

Meanwhile, Twitter effective May 6 will shut down Nuzzel, a service Scroll acquired in 2019 that sends a daily email digest showing the top stories shared in user’s Twitter feed. Elements of Nuzzel will eventually be incorporated into Twitter, according to the company.

Twitter reported 199 million monetizable daily active users as of the end of Q1 2021, gaining 7 million sequentially (and up 20% year over year). Total revenue was $1.04 billion for the first quarter, an increase of 28%. While Q1 user gains and revenue were in line with Wall Street forecasts, Twitter’s stock fell because investors had hoped for bigger numbers as both Facebook and Snap easily topped expectations for the quarter.

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