- Creator-focused streaming service Nebula was founded in 2019 by Dave Wiskus.
- The transmitter was valued at $50 million in September amid an investment from Curiosity Stream.
- Now his group of video essayists like Legal Eagle and Wendover Productions are launching online courses.
Nebula, a focused creator
platform that has about 160 medium-sized video essays with Kat Blaque and Philosophy Tube as partners, wants to become a hub for online education.
The three-year-old company, which was valued at $50 million in September as part of an equity investment from nonfiction streaming service Curiosity Stream, is launching a new format: “Nebula + Classes.”
Nebula’s core service garners subscribers from ad-free YouTube videos, bonus content, and in-house produced originals. Now, it will expand as some creators, including gaming-focused LowSpecGamer and music critics Volkgeist and Aimee Nolte Music, release 60-minute multi-chapter courses for Nebula members.
Lawtuber Legal Eagle (2.25 million subscribers) will teach viewers “How to Sue Like a Lawyer,” for example, while travel and geography-focused Wendover Productions (5.5 million subscribers) will direct “Mastering Persuasion.” everyday”.
Nebula founder Dave Wiskus told Insider that given the company’s sweet spot in the niche, mid-sized vloggers (10,000 to 500,000 views per video) dissecting various regions of nerd culture, online courses they felt like a natural extension.
The Startup Masterclass, which reached a valuation of $2.75 billion last May, popularized the celebrity-led online course format. The format has subsequently been adopted by the likes of Studio (which offers courses run by YouTubers like Casey Neistat, Pentatonix, and Simone Giertz). Many creators are also pocketing a lot of money by leveraging third-party platforms like Kajabi, Teachable, and Maven to host and sell their own courses.
While Nebula + Classes is exclusive to those within its fleet, the company covers all associated production costs and pays creators a stipend as the format takes off.
Curiosity Stream is a big part of Nebula’s business
Wiskus, a high school dropout and content creator in his own right, founded Nebula’s parent company, Standard, in 2013. Standard is a
agency that works with YouTubers to secure brand deals, as well as other services such as merchandising and content strategy. It has 80 employees, 30 of whom are dedicated to Nebula.
Nebula’s business is also deeply tied to Curiosity Stream, the publicly traded non-fiction streaming service founded by Discovery Channel veteran John Hendricks. Like Nebula, Curiosity Stream focuses on “educational entertainment,” with an eye toward science, nature, and history. It has 23 million subscribers and reported $71.3 million in revenue last year.
The relationship began as a marketing pact, whereby Curiosity Stream paid Nebula streamers to advertise their service in their YouTube videos, and then included free access to Nebula when viewers signed up for a Curiosity Stream subscription. , which is currently priced at $3 per month. (Nebula declined to disclose how much Curiosity Stream pays for each included user.)
Nebula as a standalone service is currently priced at $5 per month. With the addition of Classes, the service will increase its subscription price for all users to $10 per month. (However, current subscribers won’t see the price increase until January 2023.) Curiosity Stream will offer Classes for a $5 surcharge.
When asked why a viewer might choose to pay for the more expensive Nebula standalone subscription instead of subscribing to the Curiosity Stream package, Wiskus noted that the primary impetus for paying for Nebula for many subscribers was to show support for its favorite creators.
But he said most users choose the Curiosity Stream package. In fact, money derived from Curiosity Stream sponsorships accounts for the majority of Nebula’s revenue, with pooled accounts comprising the vast majority of its approximately 500,000 subscribers.
Wiskus also said Curiosity Stream had increased payments to Nebula creators who run promotions for its service.
“Creators who used to make a couple thousand dollars per endorsement now make a couple hundred thousand dollars per endorsement,” Wiskus said.
Get paid ‘4 times to do a job’
Nebula’s ownership structure is a bit complicated.
Standard (which is owned by Wiskus and about 30 creators) owns a majority stake in Nebula, and Curiosity Stream took the minority stake in September.
An agreement stipulates that if Nebula is ever fully or majority acquired, 50% of the profits will go to current creators on the platform. Standard and Curiosity Stream would then split the other 50%.
In addition to earnings from brand deals arranged by Standard, Nebula creators also receive 50% of monthly subscription earnings, split based on the amount of viewing time they drive. Wiskus said that Nebula is profitable.
“So it’s like, we’ll pay you to do something, we’ll pay you to promote that, and we’ll pay you when people see what we promote, and then in the end, if it ever sells, you get a piece of the money,” Wiskus said. “So you get paid four times for doing a job… The whole system is designed so that all paths lead to the creator’s income.”