Netflix-Style Magazine App Next Issue Relaunches As Texture

Next Issue, the publisher-backed subscription service offering unlimited access to 160 magazines, is launching a revamped app with new features and a new name — Texture.

A joint venture from publishers Conde Nast, Hearst, Meredith, News Corp. and Time Inc., Next Issue launched more than three years ago. It raised $50 million from KKR at the end of 2014, and CEO John Loughlin said “a big chunk” of that money has gone toward a new product and a new brand.

The initial version of Next Issue was basically “an electronic newsstand,” he said. With Texture, the company is trying to present a more “multi-layered, multi-dimensional experience,” with a new name to match those goals.

Put another way, Next Issue allowed users to read their favorite magazines, like Bloomberg Businessweek, Rolling Stone and Wired. You didn’t have to carry around physical copies, but in many other ways, it was a pretty traditional experience. You can still read your favorite titles with Texture, but the app offers other ways to explore the content on an article level, incorporating more digital-only features.

For example, there’s now a New & Noteworthy section highlighting the latest and hottest articles. The Texture editorial team, led by Maggie Murphy (formerly Executive Editor at People Magazine and Editorial Director at Parade Magazine), is creating collections of articles where readers can explore a particular topic or theme in more depth. Readers can also search the articles in the Texture library and save them to create their own collections. And they can share individual articles via email (moving those articles out from behind the paywall), with plans for social media sharing to come.

Many of these features might sound like no brainers — if anything, it almost seems crazy to have a newsreading app without search or sharing. But it suggests Texture is at least taking steps to incorporate some of the good aspects of finding news on the web, and that it could continue to evolve.

More broadly, Loughlin (who spent a decade at Hearst before becoming Texture CEO earlier this year) acknowledged that if the service is going to compete with the online presence of individual magazines, not to mention all the other news and content on the web, it has to offer a service that’s “better than free.”

“In fact, that’s what Texture does,” he said. He estimated that 70 percent of the content in the app is not available through free channels, and he said publishers have agreed to offer more exclusive and early access articles through Texture.

The service could eventually offer new monetization opportunities, as well, for example through sponsored collections and other types of in-app ads.

One thing that won’t be changing is the app’s pricing. Texture costs $9.99 per month for a basic subscription, and $14.99 per month if you want to include weekly magazines like People, Sports Illustrated and Time.

This isn’t the only Netflix-for-magazines offering out there, by the way. Magzter recently unveiled its own unlimited magazine service, Magzter Gold, with a bigger emphasis on the diversity of titles (rather than just high-profile magazines from big publishers).