X’s new plan to lure subscribers? Partnering with Paris Hilton on a custom icon

4 min read
X's new plan to lure subscribers? Partnering with Paris Hilton on a custom icon

X has a new plan to boost payers for its X Premium subscription offering and it’s…Paris Hilton. The company formerly known as Twitter has partnered with the entrepreneur and media icon on a number of new initiatives, including now, a custom Paris pink X icon exclusively for X Premium subscribers. The deal is the latest in the recently announced, wide-ranging partnership between Hilton’s 11:11 media company and X, which also includes plans for Hilton to work with X on live video, live commerce, X Spaces (live audio), and more.

The bedazzled pink icon was earlier spotted in X’s app by X user @aaronp613 who often finds unreleased features before they’re announced. The icon, they said, was dubbed “Sparkly Pink” in the app’s code. We noticed the icon actually went live in the app ahead of today’s official announcement, but the news was not broadcast to X users until this morning.

Before Elon Musk’s acquisition, Twitter had also offered custom icons to its paid subscribers through Twitter Blue. The customization option — which is a common one among app developers to reward their paying customers — had allowed users to pick between a rotating selection of seasonal homescreen icons for the Twitter app. That perk continued with Musk’s revamp of the subscription product, which now has been rebranded X Premium and includes paid verification, the ability to edit posts, a lighter ad load, and increased visibility in search and replies, among other features.

But the icons X has offered have been fairly boring compared with Twitter’s earlier selections — they’re simply alternative colors beyond the default X on a black background, not artistic designs like they were during the pre-Musk Twitter years.

By comparison, Hilton’s new “Paris Pink” icon is indeed sparkly pink, as described, making it stand out a bit from the rest. It may appeal to users who are into a more Barbie-pink-themed smartphone homescreen, as Paris’s fans may be. This feature will only be available for a limited time — 60 days after launch, a rep from 11:11 Media tells TechCrunch.

Image Credits: X screenshot of custom icons; yes I paid for X to screenshot this for you

The company said there was not a rev share on this particular initiative, but declined to detail the overall financial terms of the two-year 11:11 content deal with X.

Though a new icon wouldn’t normally be news, this particular release represents the first time X has partnered with a celebrity to design an icon for X Premium in an effort to lure more subscribers to its $8 per month or $84 per year subscription offering, when purchased on the web. (The subscription costs more in-app to cover the app stores’ fees.) The power of a celeb partnership could perhaps boost subscriber numbers, though it’s unclear how many of Hilton’s 16.6 million followers on X are actually big enough fans to pay for this perk — especially given that the pink icon is only offered for a 2-month period.

X has struggled to attract subscribers for its paid subscription, with one report earlier this year noting the service had made just $11 million on mobile in its first three months. More recent data from a third-party analysis by researcher Travis Brown indicated X Premium gained around 94,000 net subscribers between July 1 and August 10, 2023. In total, he estimates the subscription has 891,963 subscribers as of last month. Though perhaps not terrible for a social media subscription (Snapchat+ has topped 5 million for comparison), it’s certainly not enough to offset X’s reliance on ad revenues.

Hilton’s deal with X comes after statements Musk has made about his plans for the company to move beyond being just a social network to also serve as a platform that embraces creators and allows them to monetize their fan bases. On that front, X launched an ad revenue-sharing program for creators, which paid out nearly $20 million, according to X CEO Linda Yaccarino.

X has also been courting creators to upload their videos to the platform, but the payouts are small, with one YouTuber reporting just $1590 in monthly earnings, Mashable reported. As X engineer Eric Farraro noted last week, creators only earn a percentage of ad revenue for those ads shown to Verified users — that means some will have lower earnings than expected, as there just aren’t that many Verified users to go around. Boosting that figure is key to X’s creator initiative, which makes a deal like Hilton’s of increased importance to the company.

Hilton’s involvement with X is one of many digital initiatives the celeb has engaged with in recent years. She also bet on NFTs and crypto in the past and recently launched her own “Slivingland” metaverse experience on Roblox. Hilton is also among those celebs who worked with Meta to create its new celebrity-themed AIs based on Llama 2.

With her X deal, future plans will involve live video, commerce and Spaces, including a total of eight original videos, but specific details on those haven’t yet been revealed.


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