Spotify’s foray into video has gone live on iOS a little earlier than expected. On Monday, The Wall St. Journal reported that Spotify had begun to roll out its video product to all users, beginning with its Android app this week. The iOS launch of the new “Shows” section, however, was not expected until “the next week or so,” a spokesperson told us at the time. While that may be technically true – after all, most can’t yet see the “Shows” option in the “Browse” area on Spotify – there is a way to get in through the back door, so to speak.
But first, in case you missed it: Spotify originally announced its plans to move beyond music back in May, saying that it would introduce video clip, podcasts, news and more to its product. The actual roll out of the video content ended up being delayed until this month, though.
The company told The WSJ that it had been testing video with less than 10 percent of its users in four markets (U.S., U.K., Germany, and Sweden) in the months since the announcement. Spotify’s VP of Product, Shiva Rajaraman, brushed off the late launch as being “part of the plan,” according to The WSJ’s report.
This week, the launch finally began as “Shows” went live on Android. Accessed from within “Browse,” Android users can now watch videos from providers including ESPN, Comedy Central, the BBC, VICE Media, Maker Studios, MTV,, TED, NBC, ABC News, Vogue, Elite Daily, Tastemade, Wired, Fusion, and others. Content will be varied by market, notes Spotify, and can be tailored to users’ individual tastes.
As with artists, users can choose to “Follow” shows on Spotify from the show’s page. These are then accessible for easy access in the future from the “Your Library” section on Spotify.
And that leads us to the back door.
Though the option to “browse” straight to the video section doesn’t yet seem to be broadly rolled out on iOS, you can reach the still-hidden “Shows” page from “Your Library.”
After navigating to your library, you should see the new “Shows” option under “Playlists,” “Stations,” “Songs,” “Albums,” and “Artists.” Tap this link and you’ll be taken to an empty page which will later list all the shows you follow on the service.
Here, Spotify says “Go to the Shows page to start following all sorts of great shows.” You then tap on the big “Shows” button below and – ta-da! – the Shows page appears.
This page offers a selection of featured shows and videos, a way to browse video and audio shows, and it lets you dive into the various shows by genre – like Lifestyle, Tech & Gaming, Society & Culture, News, Comedy, Entertainment, Sports & Recreation, and much more.
Nothing seems to be broken here, even though the section is still hidden in “Browse.” The videos play; you can follow shows, add items to your queue, and so on.
Expanding to video is a notable step for the streaming music service, which is valued at over $8.5 billion, and is said to be raising another $500 million. The company claims 20 million paying subscribers, though recent leaks peg that number as being even higher – 28 million, according to a report from the Swedish newspaper that broke the funding news.
Today, video and music are overlapping more than ever on mobile devices, with YouTube trying to spin off its large collection of music videos into its own, paid service YouTube Music, for example. Meanwhile, consumers are watching more video content than ever on their mobile devices.
Outside of the leaders in the space – Netflix, Amazon, YouTube and Hulu – there are dozens of niche offerings popping up, ranging from over-the-top premium cable TV, like HBO and Showtime, to startup challengers like Vessel or Pluto TV, and efforts from traditional carriers and ISPs like Sling TV (Dish), Watchable (Comcast), Stream (Comcast), or go90 (Verizon: disclosure, TechCrunch parent.) All hope to carve out a niche of their own in the mobile video market.
It makes sense that Spotify, which has already established a significant presence on users’ mobile devices as a top 10 to 15 ranked app, would expand into video. In addition to potentially increasing user engagement with its application and convert more free users to subscribers, the move also paves the way for the company to generate new revenue streams in the future by going beyond the music industry’s slim margins and reaching into video.