May 3, 2022
I can’t believe I finally get to say this.
The next pillar of Nebula content, Nebula Classes, is live. Along with videos and podcasts — including our hundreds of Nebula Originals and Nebula Plus exclusive videos — you can now learn skills from your favorite creators in fully-produced classes available exclusively on Nebula.
There are many different ways to create courses online, but none of them quite fit the way we see the world. Most of them require creators to produce the classes ourselves and take on all of the capital risk, or place us alongside unvetted amateurs with no way to distinguish us as experts. Some platforms have pushed for cohort-led classes, which sounds like fun but requires a huge investment of the thing creators have the least of: time. In every case, it would mean spending our time and energy building value in someone else’s platform.
With Nebula, we already have a platform. We have half a million paying users. We have production budget for Original content. Why not do this ourselves and build a system for our needs, for our audiences, on our own terms?
Nebula Classes is the largest undertaking ever. Bigger than the original launch three years ago. Nearly a year of design, development, and production. Countless hours of human effort from across every team and dozens of creators. We’ve hired a fully-dedicated Classes production team, built out a production studio, and developed a process for working alongside creators.
It’s worth talking about that process.
Every Nebula class is written by the creator — who is then flown to NYC to shoot with our on-site Classes team — then handed off to our post-production team at Standard Studios for editing, motion graphics, audio cleanup, branding, and QA. We buy props, license clips, and generally look for ways to plus the class up. Every class is an investment in the creator, which includes paying the creator for their time, and giving them the same watch time revenue split as the rest of Nebula.
The first wave includes classes from Sam from Wendover, Thomas Frank, Sarah Feldman, Alex the LowSpecGamer, Aimee Nolte, and Philip from Volksgeist. We’ve also partnered with the team from Bright Trip to produce a series of Nebula-exclusive classes, starting with the ABCs of Architecture. We’re also introducing a guest-lecture style class called a Nebula Talk, starting with Matt from Extra Credits. New classes will be released every week, with classes in production right now from Rene Ritchie, Devin from LegalEagle, Georgia Dow, Noah from Polyphonic, Zach Highley, and a bunch I can’t talk about yet.
There are also interesting technical implications. Much of the engineering work for Classes required under-the-hood work that will result in the release of highly-requested Nebula features over the next month or so, like watch later, watch history, watch status, and sharing from our mobile apps.
This is a true leap forward for Nebula overall. We’re spending more money on exclusive and original content this year than the last two years combined, and our engineering and product teams are bigger than ever. This cost overhead needs to be accounted for in our pricing.
Creators selling their own online courses isn’t entirely novel, but the costs involved usually lead to very high pricing. By leaning into Nebula’s existing subscription model, instead of paying hundreds of dollars each for individual classes, the audience can access any of our classes whenever they want, and enjoy weekly additions of new classes, for a reasonable monthly (or annual) price.
As of today, most of our users have come in through the Curiosity Stream bundle. Those users can upgrade their accounts to include Classes access for only $5 more per month, or they can skip classes and keep their current access at no additional cost. For existing direct users, Classes access is immediate, and no price increase will be seen until January of 2023. For new folks coming in, the price goes from $5 per month ($50 per year) to $10 per month ($100 per year). For new users, visiting a creator URL to sign up will still get you a 20% ( $2 per month or $20 per year) discount. Nebula sans Classes will still be available for all new Curiosity Stream bundle users.
This is about accounting for the cost of all of this additional content, but also about setting us up for the future. For a long time we assumed that Classes would be a new tier of Nebula service. In the end, that felt wrong to us — Nebula should just be Nebula, and setting precedent of extra costs for new content categories painted a picture of a nickel-and-dime future that didn’t feel great to us. We don’t want to tie our destiny to a Nebula Pro account upsell path. Prices may change over time, but this means that Nebula is Nebula.
Nebula is all about giving creators the best home for everything they make. With Classes, one more boundary has been removed, and our creators have a whole new opportunity to inform and inspire. I’m super proud of the team — staff and creator alike — for all of the work they’ve put in to make this possible, and I can’t wait for the world to see all of the amazing stuff we’ve been working on.