Nebula Blog

Wanted: Nebula Sports

In October of 1932, during the fifth inning of game three of the World Series, Yankee’s star Babe Ruth called his shot, pointing to center field just before hitting a home run. The Yankees won the game and went on to win the series, cementing Ruth’s status as a baseball legend.

This is a pretty amazing story, but I had to read it on Wikipedia because Nebula doesn’t have videos about baseball.

Nebula’s first creators were people whose work I personally enjoyed. Then they brought in the folks they liked; creator friends they made at events or over social media. Over time, our community has grown like vines: casual, seizing organic opportunities more than seeking out any particular thing. It’s hard to define a single shared characteristic that makes someone a good Nebula creator, but I often use words like thoughtful or storyteller. I think that captures the spirit, at least. You can see our collective interests: film, TV, politics, science, games, technology. What might not be as obvious is a love of sports.

This is largely a blind spot of mine. While I’ve recently picked up playing tennis (badly) and running (slowly), I’m not much of a sports fan myself. A ton of our creators are, and I always enjoy when they drag me to games, but we never developed a process or culture for bringing on sports creators. It’s mostly luck that we got Chain Bear, Berm Peak, and Cult Tennis. We think that there are probably a ton of great creators like them that we just aren’t running into naturally. It would be great to do more for them, and for their audience, to broaden Nebula’s appeal.

Our new section homepages present an opportunity for us to correct for this blind spot and intentionally grow a new category that hasn’t taken root organically. Today we’re doing something we’ve never done before: we’re asking creators to contact us to talk about being a part of Nebula.

Here’s what we’re looking for:

  • To be clear: this is only for creators making sports videos.
  • Videos should be thoughtful and interesting, not just clips or highlights.
  • No reliance on dubiously-sourced footage. Everything should be licensed or fair use.
  • Average of over 200k views per video.
  • Channel should be at least one year old.
  • Creators who want to join and participate in an amazing community of storytellers.

What you get:

  • Access to our Getty and Reuters repositories, including sports footage.
  • Sponsorship opportunities.
  • Equity.
  • Revenue sharing.
  • Access to our creator community for strategy roundtables, casual conversation, events, and insights.
  • Creator tools, including SoundQ, GEOlayers, MapTiler, Storyblocks, Epidemic Sounds, Poliigon, Rocket Lawyer, Karat, and Earthworks.
  • Access to our world-class video production team.

We want to expand our creator-built, creator-owned platform to appeal to a whole new audience, and better captivate the audience we already have. We think sports could be a huge part of Nebula’s future. This time, we’re calling our shot.

If this sounds interesting and you think you’d be a good fit for what we’re building, please get in touch. We’d love to chat.

Facts & Fiction

Today we’re releasing the biggest update to Nebula since our launch in 2019. More than feature updates, bug improvements, or new shows, this update presents a clear vision of where we come from, who we are, and where we’re going.

The most obvious change you’ll notice is a major UI update, with categories arranged below the hero banner on the Featured page. Those hero images sit larger on the screen — especially on mobile, which is my favorite layout — and video and creator elements are generally larger, giving more prominence to the creators and their work, and making it easier to find new things.


Starting today, categories are getting their own homepages, with specific groups of creators and videos, human-curated video rails, and relevant Originals and updates featured in the hero section at the top.

As we’ve worked to build a recommendation algorithm, we’ve realized that our approach would need to be different from what a user-generated content platform like YouTube would do. Our problem isn’t a need to ensure that quality floats to the top. Our curation and creator vetting process goes a very long way to ensuring a high bar for quality. What we need largely comes down to organization.

By letting viewers pick from categories and category groups, we allow those individual category homepages to act as mini streaming services, not unlike how Disney+ breaks out Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, and so on. If you’re a science fan and mainly stick to the science page, it’s a fairly safe bet that you’ll enjoy most of what you see, either from the human-curated rails or from the latest videos feed. Video categories are set by the creators themselves, so as creators evolve and explore, you may see a new face appear on your favorite page that you weren’t expecting.

This approach will also have an impact on how we select the creators we work with, and how we select and develop Nebula Originals.

Content Development

Nebula’s creators cover a wide range of topics and genres, but the core of what has driven us from the beginning is making things that are thoughtful. As we’ve grown, we’ve brought together a truly incredible collection of essayists, journalists, and experts in everything from film criticism to climate science.

As we thought about the role of information and analysis or explainer videos, we thought a lot about context. 91% of millennials and Gen Z — Nebula’s core audience — get their news from social media. With so much of our information literacy driven by headlines and hot takes, it’s easy to passively doomscroll throughout the day and get the sensation of being informed.

But this is what Nebula creators do best: thoughtful synthesis of complex topics. So today we’re taking a step forward in how we present news and current events.

Introducing Nebula News

We get our news from social media, but algorithm-driven news presents its own set of challenges. Nebula News is a new page on Nebula, focusing on the stories affecting you and the world you live in. It provides thoughtful context and analysis for the torrent of news stories you see on social media.

Our creators already cover these stories: timely news and analysis, documentaries on big-picture topics, and reviews and discussion of current media. The earliest iterations of our community were largely made up of creators who told exciting stories with facts. Nebula News is a new layout and philosophy to specifically bring this content forward for people looking to get caught up, or dig deeper into human interest stories.

Our first made-for-news show is War Room, from the RealLifeLore team. Expanding on their wildly popular Modern Conflicts series, War Room will provide context and updates over time for the current status of major conflicts going on across the globe, helping viewers expand and deepen their understanding of geopolitics and stay aware of humanitarian issues even when they don’t grab headlines.

All of our category pages are thoughtfully human-curated by our editorial team, but we knew that News needed something extra. While Nebula News isn’t intended to be your only source of news, the complexity of world events and political changes means that any efforts to veer into the curation of journalism should be managed by journalists. I’m excited to announce that we’ve brought in TLDR’s Jack Kelly as our news director. Jack and his team will oversee the curation of Nebula News, and the development of new News-centric Nebula Original shows. They’ll also be on the lookout for creators doing excellent journalism work, and building new shows and formats tailored specifically to the folks who turn to Nebula News for insights and context.

This is just the beginning. We’ll have a few big creator announcements related to News soon.

Facts and Fiction

As we shift our focus to creating more amazing Nebula Originals, a lot of our creative energy is moving in an exciting new direction: narrative storytelling. We produced Night of the Coconut, the first feature film from Patrick Willems, and the award-winning play The Prince, written by and starring Abigail Thorn, with a number of narrative projects in development like IDENTITEAZE, the short film by Jessie Gender. Most recently we announced Abigail’s follow-up Original, Dracula’s Ex-Girlfriend. The response was so strong that the film became profitable a week later.

Now we find ourselves walking parallel paths, striking a balance between fact-based entertainment and scripted fiction. This is an exciting moment for all of us, and one which opens new doors for what a creator’s career potential can be. Social media video services are great at expanding the audience of reality-style formats, game shows, video essays, and lifestyle shows, but those systems don’t create success pathways for scripted storytelling like sitcoms, dramas, or longer-form comedy. Likewise, algorithmically-generated feeds nudge toward a sort of retention-driven attention economy style of production, making it tricky to escape the gravity of the tropes and formats that bring in the views.

The goal and promise of Nebula is to provide a system for creators to explore and realize their potential. We spent 2023 building processes and teams behind the scenes to better support this vision, and I’m excited to show off a bit of what we’re working on.

First let’s talk facts:


From Tom Nicholas, a feature-length documentary about our aging political leaders, told with his trademark humorous bent. 

The Baltimore Scandal

The true story of a feud between two researchers which threatened to take down a Nobel Prize winner, from Kevan MacKay (BobbyBroccoli).

Pigment of Your Imagination

A docuseries about color, from Sarah Renae Clark. Each episode will explore another surprising facet of how color shapes our reality, featuring guest appearances and interviews with experts.

The Getaway

A brand new Nebula Original series from the producers of Jet Lag: The Game.

War Room

From the team behind RealLifeLore comes an extension of Modern Conflicts: a monthly situation report for ongoing conflicts around the world.

The Wonder of it All

An all-new podcast wherein former Harvey Danger frontman Sean Nelson interviews people whose careers were largely defined by one early, conspicuous success.


Lola Sebastian’s investigative journalism podcast, exploring the scandal that rocked her school.  

And fiction:


From director Patrick Willems, a short horror film about a guy trying to make it through a stressful dinner party at his boss’s house.

Let’s Table This

Created by DC Pierson (Derrick Comedy), a sketch comedy show about sketch comedy shows. A group of comedians (and a rotating celebrity host) sit around the dinner table telling stories and trying to make each other laugh.


A sci-fi short from Jessie Gender about a pair of new hires forced to unravel the mystery of their identity. Starring John de Lancie, Jasika Nicole, Maggie Mae Fish, Ezra Reaves, Darius Rose, Abigail Thorn, and James Tison.

Dracula’s Ex-Girlfriend

Two former rivals who share the same ex — Count Dracula — reconnect over dinner and drinks. Think My Dinner with Andre but with vampires. Directed by Valentina Vee, and starring Abigail Thorn (Star Wars: The Acolyte), Morgana Ignis, and Brandon Rogers (Helluva Boss).

More To Come

This is just the beginning. Last year we brought in Sam Denby as our chief content officer to reconsider the power and potential of Nebula Originals. He’s worked closely with myself and with our production team — led by a former Marvel Studios producer — to build a development pipeline that currently stretches into 2025, and is designed to increase in scope and sophistication organically as budgets grow.

Each project we greenlight now is built to be a step on a path: to level up our creators, our team, and our audience’s expectations. 2024 will be big on short films for the Fiction side for that reason. We’re collecting experience. 

We believe that the next generation of filmmakers and storytellers is already active and creating. What we need is a pipeline — a prestige layer to bridge the gap between social media platforms and traditional film and television. The future of media and entertainment belongs to the creators. If they’re clever, they can sneak in early and take it while Hollywood isn’t looking.

Nebula isn’t a collection of YouTubers building our own little streaming service. We’re assembling a crew for a heist.

2023 Year-End Review

It would be hard to overstate just how big 2023 was for us. In January we made the decision to take control of our destiny and bring all of our marketing and communications efforts in-house. This was a huge change, and definitely not without risk. How did that work out for us? Let’s take a look at the numbers.

  • Added nearly 200k direct subscribers.
  • Direct monthly recurring revenue (MRR) increased 162%.
  • Overall MRR increased 16%.
  • Direct subscriber churn decreased from 9% to 4.4%.
  • Direct subscriber lifetime value (LTV) increased 41%.

In short: we have more subscribers, they pay us more, and they stay longer.

Before we go too much further, the elephant in the room:

Historically we’ve talked about total subscriber counts. For context, we started 2023 with about 650,000 total subscribers and ended with about 680,000 total subscribers. Focusing on this number made sense when Nebula was available as part of a bundle (which drove many of our signups) but for 2023 onward might be a distraction. Since the goal for 2023 was to grow direct subscribers, and since direct subscribers are the only contributors to revenue as of 2024, we expect overall subscriber count to stay fairly flat as those viewers convert over to direct subscriptions, while revenue will continue to grow significantly. Direct subscribers are simply worth a lot more revenue. Going forward, we’re only interested in direct subscriber metrics.


Bringing Nebula’s marketing efforts 100% in-house was the single largest driver of growth for us over the last year. It’s also the biggest risk we’ve ever taken. Speaking frankly, this move was terrifying. Running the campaign wasn’t a huge departure — we’ve been doing that for years — but paying for it out of our own cash reserves meant burning cash until the new revenue could offset it, and we didn’t have that much cash to burn. We were literally betting the entire company that our audience would pay more for Nebula as a standalone service.

Subscription service marketing is very much a numbers game. If you imagine the average lifetime value of a Nebula subscriber is $75, our target cost to acquire that customer should be $25. Nebula costs $5 per month, which means that it would take us five months to break even. That doesn’t account for churn — the rate at which customers cancel their subscriptions — so we were racing against time to hit a point where revenue growth pays back the initial marketing investment.

Our solution was to emphasize annual subscriptions. We removed discounts for new monthly subscribers, making annual the more attractive option. Annual subscriptions are $50, or $30 if you sign up using a creator link, so the hope was that enough people would choose annual that our up-front cash would be more offset. Our most optimistic and aggressive models had us hitting equilibrium in Q3.

In reality, it was instant. So many customers chose annual that our first-month revenue was more than the cost per acquisition in the very first month of the campaign. We make more money from new subscribers than we pay to bring them in. This, combined with a lower churn rate, means that it’s in our best interests to keep investing in the creators. Nebula spent nearly $5m on sponsorships in 2023.

Every penny of our marketing budget is spent paying our creators to promote Nebula to their audience. We’ve never seen anything perform as well as sponsorships. We’ll certainly expand our marketing over time as we seek awareness beyond our current audience, but I don’t ever see a world where we stop paying the creators to promote. It’s simply too powerful.


In product marketing, there are goods and services which are up-market, meaning they’re higher quality and appeal to more discerning customers, or down-market, meaning they’re relatively inexpensive and generally lower in quality. Being part of a bundle meant that Nebula was an add-on. A thing you get for free. Inherently down-market. Shifting to direct subscribers was about increasing Nebula’s value perception.

At the beginning of the year we started placing internal emphasis on prestige. Will a given feature, Original, or event move Nebula up-market or down-market? Unbundling was definitely an up-market move. Red carpet premieres are up-market moves. If we want to keep pushing in that direction, we need to dial up our Originals slate.

Nebula started life as “education-y streaming service where you can see your favorite creators’ videos early and ad-free.” This year, inspired by the cultural impact of The Prince, we recognized an opportunity to do something big — bridging the gap between “YouTuber” and traditional media and entertainment — and we’ve spent much of 2023 investing in our development and production pipeline. This investment has led to some big changes, like bringing in Jet Lag creator Sam Denby as our chief content officer. We also hired a communications director (publicist) in order to be more intentional about how, when, and where we make announcements, specifically hiring someone whose background is entertainment, not creator economy or technology. The effort has paid off, getting us some ink in Variety and more attention behind the scenes from more traditional sources. Some of our projects in development have been announced, like IDENTITEAZE and Dracula’s Ex-Girlfriend, but that only scratches the surface of what we’re working on.

Still, these prestige-play, up-market projects simply cost a lot more to produce. We could wait for the money to come in and build slowly, or we could find another option.

Lifetime Memberships

Every business needs capital. There are four basic ways to get it:

  1. Start out rich
  2. Borrow the money and pay it back with interest
  3. Sell equity and give up some long-term upside
  4. Make so much money from your customers that you don’t need options 1–3

The parasocial nature of our creators’ audience relationships creates a kind of trust. Nebula, as an extension of the creators themselves, inherits that trust. It’s why, I think, our marketing efforts have been so effective. Rather than take a loan or take investment from venture capitalists, we decided to experiment with lifetime memberships as a way to let the audience themselves place a bet on us.

Simply put, a lifetime membership takes the full presumed value of a Nebula subscriber over some period of time and moves all of that future money to today. We intentionally chose a price higher than what our data tells us is the average lifetime value of a customer, and we stated very clearly that this was not the best deal. The only reason to buy a lifetime membership is to support Nebula and help us invest in more big-idea Originals. A lot of people seem to like this option.

We’ve turned lifetime memberships off and on a few times over the year, trying to protect against a scenario where total monthly signups is negatively impacted. To our surprise, in every single test the total number of non-lifetime signups goes up when lifetime is available, and better yet, those additional sales are almost entirely for annual subscriptions. The existence of a lifetime option anchors the annual plan as the best deal.

How well did it go? Lifetime memberships generated more than $4.1m in sales in 2023. Turns out the best way to raise funding is to ask our own customers to help us make bigger Originals. What a beautiful privilege that is.


Trajectory is hard to map at the moment, in part because so much has changed over the last year, but more specifically December was nuts. Our five biggest days ever for signups all happened in December. The month saw new records for single-day watch time, daily active users, monthly active users, cash flow, revenue, and month-over-month revenue growth. Our biggest month ever by all metrics before Christmas.

Will this pattern hold? December had a lot going for it — several new Originals, a Real Engineering video specifically about our streaming infrastructure, a major announcement from Abigail Thorn, a ten-minute teaser from Lindsay Ellis. Oh right, and a new season of Jet Lag featuring Michelle Khare.

Another major driver was folks switching over from the bundle, which we expect to persist across 2024. Our forecasts remain conservative, but who knows.

2023 was a year of change and growth for us. We did a ton of work behind the scenes to overhaul operations, taking the ethos of our Snow Leopard initiative and applying it to every single facet of the business. This effort was, silently, the most important change we made all year, bringing focus and clarity to every team in the company to act as a single machine rather than a system of loosely interconnected parts. Along the way, we brought more creators into day-to-day operational roles, intentionally blurring the lines between staff and client to ensure everyone was on the same team. At present, content development, talent management, in-studio production, and marketing are all led by creators.

Our mission is to elevate our creators. To elevate their work. To elevate the medium. This isn’t a collection of “YouTubers,” this is a community of journalists, philosophers, filmmakers, experts, and storytellers whose work deserves to be taken seriously. 2023 was about developing into a mature and sustainable independent business, but everything until now has been defined by what the creators have helped us build. 2024 onward will be defined by what we help our creators build.

A year ago I wondered if I was crazy to think we could pull this off. I won’t say it was easy. It wasn’t. But we did it, better than I ever could have dreamed. To every single person who has ever signed up for a direct Nebula subscription: thank you.

Nebula’s biggest competitive advantage is hundreds of amazing, talented, empathetic, clever people working together on a shared vision and a common goal. I’m proud to be one of them.


We’ve been getting a lot of questions about the CuriosityStream bundle and whether Nebula will be included going forward, especially in light of statements that CuriosityStream has been making publicly and to its customers. For example, we’re aware of communications from CuriosityStream to customers making the promise that Nebula will be included in their bundle beyond 2024 if you sign up now for a two year bundle term. This is not accurate.

If you renew your CuriosityStream bundle subscription this calendar year, you will still get Nebula through the end of your 12-month subscription term. The latest someone will get access to Nebula via the CuriosityStream bundle is December 31, 2024, if they renewed their CuriosityStream bundle subscription on December 31, 2023. If they renewed on March 5 of 2023, they’ll get access until March 5 of 2024. And so on.

If your bundle access is set to renew in November or December of 2023, you still can still take advantage of the bundle. However, given that so many of you signed up, at least in part, because you wanted to support the creators, we should note that Nebula will not be paid for bundle users in 2024. CuriosityStream has stated, including in their recent SEC filings, that they will be ceasing revenue sharing with Nebula in January. The only way to ensure that all of your dollars go to Nebula and its creators is to sign up directly with Nebula.

This situation is understandably frustrating and confusing. We’re going to try to make it as painless as possible. Nobody should be punished for trying to support us, and we have no desire to ask anyone to pay twice. You can purchase an annual direct subscription today at a discounted rate of $30, and we won’t start the clock on your subscription until your bundle access expires.

While the bundle was advantageous to us in the past, one weird side effect is that there are a bunch of folks who use Nebula every day, but whose primary customer relationship is with CuriosityStream. That doesn’t mean we take your attention and support for granted. It just means we have an opportunity to prove our value and win your business as a direct subscriber. There are a lot of amazing, smart people here — creators and staff alike — working hard to make more great things for you. We hope you’ll stick around.

Lifetime Memberships — Part Two

For the month of September, starting now, we’re offering lifetime memberships for $300. For as long as both you and Nebula are alive, you’ll have access to everything monthly and annual subscribers get. No catch.

Back in April we did a test run of lifetime memberships. We were already planning on ramping up Nebula Originals in the second half of the year, and we wanted to test to see if lifetime memberships could be a way to front-load revenue and spend more on content development. We assumed that we could probably sell about 1,000 over the course of the month.

In reality, we sold just over 1,500 in a week. Lifetime memberships were so popular that we decided to pump the brakes, look over the data, and try to figure out what it all means. 

The big question: would this cannibalize ongoing revenue? Logically we knew we were playing a game of balancing revenue against cash, but the exact implications are important. To our surprise, over 50% of the people who purchased lifetime memberships were brand new customers. Of the folks who were switching, less than half were direct subscribers. Even more surprisingly, we actually saw monthly and annual subscriptions increase

Lifetime memberships are a net positive in every way.

The only thing we’re changing this time is the price point. $300 more fairly represents the long-term value of Nebula without cannibalizing our revenue. If that’s not worth it for you, we totally understand. Lifetime isn’t intended to be the best short-term value. You’ll have all month to decide if this is right for you. If not, we’ll probably do another round eventually. No guarantees on what the price will look like if or when we do, though.

Last time, despite spelling out our intentions, we saw some well-intentioned-but-misguided speculation that this must mean some kind of trouble. Nope. We just want to build bigger things without losing autonomy.

Our primary focus right now is increasing Nebula Originals budgets. We wanted to ensure a balance between paying the creators (one third of the money goes to whichever creator whose code you used when you came in) and building amazing new things. There are other ways to get this money. The most traditional path would be to go take funding. Venture capitalists hit us up constantly. We don’t want to do that. We’re much more interested in building this with you.

Nebula Lifetime. $300. Available all September.