Apple TV Launches Watchup Video-News App (Exclusive)

Startup delivers personalized, on-demand TV newscasts from 160 sources including CNN, Fox News and CBS News

Apple TV - Watchup
Courtesy of Watchup

Apple TV users now have access to free, personalized newscasts from Watchup, a startup that aggregates content from 160 partners including CNN, Fox News Channel, CBS News and Tribune Media.

The new Watchup app supports the fourth-generation Apple TV, which the tech giant launched last fall. Watchup describes itself as a kind of “Pandora for news,” letting users generate individualized newscasts by selecting topics of interest, and fine-tune those by liking or disliking reports.

“Personalization is the future of TV news, and Watchup for Apple TV fulfills that promise with custom made newscasts, a seamless user experience and an unparalleled breadth of content,” said Watchup founder and CEO Adriano Farano. “It’s the best selection of video news on Apple TV.”

Watchup’s service delivers between 2,000 and 3,000 video clips each day, Farano said. Partners include Bloomberg, PBS, CNN, CBS Interactive, Financial Times, Fox News, Fusion, Sky News, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post.

The service also features local news from more than 100 TV stations — representing more than 80% of U.S. markets — via deals with Meredith, E.W. Scripps, Tribune Media, Cox Media Group, Hearst Television, McClatchy, Bonten Media Group, Schurz Communications, Hubbard Broadcasting, Lilly Broadcasting and Calkins Media. In addition, Watchup distributes video from digital sites catering to millennials, including the Verge, Vox, CNet and GameSpot.

Farano declined to specify how many users Watchup has, putting the figure at “hundreds of thousands.” Getting on connected-TV devices like Apple TV is critical for the company, he said: Watchup’s average user session is 28 minutes on TV apps versus 5-10 minutes on mobile apps.

“Watching the news is mainly a living-room experience,” he said.

At the start of 2015, 15% of Watchup’s viewing was on connected-TV devices; that climbed to 55% at the end of the year. In addition to apps for iOS and Android, Watchup is on Amazon Fire TV, Microsoft Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii U. The startup is developing support for Google’s Chromecast and is evaluating the Roku platform, Farano said.

Watchup for Apple TV, available starting Thursday, features on-demand streaming of a user’s personalized newscast in addition to continuous streaming by topic (such as business, entertainment, technology and sports), location or outlet. Viewers can stream their news continuously or set up a daily custom newscast delivered at a preset time of their choice.

Currently, Watchup is available only in the U.S., but the company expects to expand internationally in the future, Farano said. Watchup’s partners sell ads, which are typically preroll spots, and the startup receive a cut of the sales.

Investors in the Menlo Park, Calif.-based company, founded in 2012, include Tribune Media, Microsoft, Knight Foundation and Turner Broadcasting.

Watch a promo video of Watchup for Apple TV: