Forbes is charging $9 a month for a new video education program that takes a page from MasterClass


Shirin Behzadi, CEO of Home Franchise Concepts

  • Forbes is launching an $8.99-a-month video network for entrepreneurs it’s dubbed Forbes8.
  • It’s the latest example of a publisher jumping on the direct consumer revenue train to supplement its ad revenue.
  • Forbes is pushing into an e-learning area with already-established players like MasterClass and Real Vision, though.

To grow its consumer revenue, Forbes is taking a page from the success of video-learning behemoths like MasterClass and Real Vision.

On Monday, the company announced Forbes8, a subscription digital video network that pitches itself as “Entrepreneurial Inspiration to Drive Business.” It contains more than 2,000 videos offering tips, information, and advice for budding and established entrepreneurs.

For $1.99 a day, $5.99 a week, or $8.99 a month, subscribers get access to glossy videos of people like Donna Langley, chairman of Universal Pictures, discussing overcoming adversity; Chobani CMO Peter McGuinness talking about making yogurt fun; and author Tim Ferriss on writing books that will go viral. The videos are customizable and organized in tabs “For You,” “Inspire,” “Launch,” “Grow,” and “Impact.”

“We’ve been trying to innovate often,” said Tom Davis, Forbes’ chief growth officer. “A couple years ago, it dawned on me that video storytelling on mobile devices was the way to take Forbes to the next level. The purpose of helping people becoming better business people could be done through video storytelling. We were sitting on a lot of information that wasn’t curated appropriately.”

Read more: Apple is pitching its new subscription service as a savior to journalism, but publishers say its logic is flawed

Davis said the name Forbes8 grew out of a working title Forbes Infinity. Forbes decided that the infinity sign (a sideways “8”) was too hard to type into a browser, so it changed the spelling to Forbes8.

Video education has become a hot area, with companies like 3-year-old MasterClass, which just raised $80 million and offers instructional insights from the likes of Martin Scorsese, Ron Howard, and James Patterson; and 4-year-old Real Vision, which had raised $15 million as of last May and provides insights from hedge fund managers. Both cost $180 a year.

Davis acknowledged he looked at other e-learning and entrepreneurial courses but said that Forbes8 was different from MasterClass and other established ones. The network will draw from video created by Forbes’ own editorial staff, its events, its BrandVoice advertisers, and licensed content from others such as MasterClass itself.

“We have access to titans of industry and business people who maybe aren’t well-known, and startups,” he said.

Forbes is working with AW3 Media, a global SaaS technology company led by Amos Winbush III, with a network of 15 telecom companies reaching 2.2 billion mobile phone subscribers. In addition to and on the Apple Store, the video network will be available through telco companies that will offer subsidized access to their mostly overseas subscribers.

Davis said Forbes has other plans for reader-driven revenue he wouldn’t reveal. He wouldn’t put a dollar figure on how big of a business he sees Forbes8 becoming, but said he thinks it could be “large and meaningful.” 

In any case, there’s limited downside to the initiative, as Forbes is running Forbes8 using its existing staff.

Forbes isn’t the first traditional publisher to get into paid video to supplement its advertising revenue. Late last year, Vox Media launched a $4.99-a-month video membership program to offset the cost of its video production.  

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Why Tesla’s Model X was the first SUV to receive a perfect crash-test rating