Just throw in the Xbox

…with Xbox Game Pass you not only get access to over 100 games, along with all of the other usual online services you might expect, but for an additional $10/month, you can get an Xbox Series S as well ($20/month for the more capable Series X)! Notice the framing there, which is the opposite of how I put it on Thursday: given the fact that consoles have always been an up-front purchase, the natural way to think about Microsoft’s monthly pricing option is that it is a 24-month installment plan for the $299 Series S or the $499 Series X, with Xbox Game Pass added on top. Given that Microsoft’s strategy is all about subscriptions, though, it makes sense to consider the console itself as the bundled benefit.

Ben Thompson, Stratechery, “2020 Bundles”

The idea about doing the subscription the other way round – first content, then device as an add-on – is brilliant.

I am seriously considering this, when it becomes available.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

The real magic of Disney+

Disney+ launched in Denmark yesterday. By 6.45 AM I had it installed on 2 devices and our Apple TV at home. That’s how much I have been looking forward to the launch. And yes, I saw the first two episodes of “The Mandalorian”.

But aside from being a cool service in itself with an abundance of great content, Disney+ is also a big picture strategic masterstroke and a model to get inspired by for a lot of other companies.

Yes, they are late to the streaming game. But you could also say that they have had amble time to observe and learn from the competition and thus avoid the worst of the ‘early days’ diseases the firstmovers usually encounter.

On top of that the direct comparisons with Netflix, HBO and all the others are slightly flawed. Disney+ is so much more; it’s a direct avenue to increased merchandise sales and visits to their theme parks (where available and not taking into account the current Covid-19 restrictions, which – honestly – no one could have planned for).

The goal of Disney+ overall is not to win the streaming wars as I see it. It’s more of a clever way of driving awareness of and interest in the content universes themselves thus sparking increased demand for all the products sitting on shelves in retail stores, where Disney really makes their margins.

The price of 59 DKK per month – a little more than half of Netflix or HBO – supports this.

This is what Disney+ has that’s unique. Netflix doesn’t have that play, HBO doesn’t either and none of the other streaming players have it. Disney does. And it’s every bit as much a part of their core business model as the quality of their content is.

Having waited the streaming phenomenon out until there were some well established models that others have worked the kinks out of and THEN launch with the long tail of related products that no other player can match is a simple, beautiful strategic masterstroke you can only bow to.

It’s almost magic.

(Photo: Screenshot)

Go for subscription, Twitter

Twitter is reportedly exploring adding a subscription model to their offering.

Good for them!

However, they should go full throttle and turn Twitter into a full blown subscription product with no free tier.

Why?

First of all, my bet is that there is a great willingness to pay from those who see Twitter as a strong platform to communicate, get the message out there and be heard by those who needs to hear and get the insights. There are plenty of other niche examples of this. This goes for politicians, business executives, investors, NGOs of various sorts and media people.

Speaking of those, I think they would actually prefer for a lot of Twitter ‘users’ NOT to be present any more on the platform, which gives me reason number 2 why turning Twitter into a full blown subscription platform is a no-brainer.

Because after all; when was the last time when you heard someone truly relish a Twitter debate full of trolls?

I thought so.

If a lot of of the trolls and bots fell off a cliff and off the Twitter platform, when it turned full subscription, would that be a loss? Eeh, no.

So go, go, GO!, Jack Dorsey! Make it happen.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

Insight is value

People inside and outside the media industry are starting to take notice of the value of quality content; content that people are actually willing to pay for.

Hooray! Better late than never, I guess. And yes, this goes out to you late bloomers in the media industry, who are finally getting around to the idea of getting your income – your livelihood – from other sources than an advertising market going towards a CPM of 0.

Yes, zero!

Anyways, it’s great that the focus is now on how to create content people are willing to pay for. But at the same time, I think it’s valid to mark a point of concern:

I see a lot – especially media people – looking towards popularity numbers to decide, which content is worth paying for, ie looking at page views and different engagement metrics to determine what they need more of in terms of increasing their ability to drive payment direct from users.

I think this concept is flawed. And let me back it up with a couple of examples:

I pay a monthly subscription to Stratechery by Ben Thompson and have done so for years. I pay a monthly subscription to Exponential View by Azeem Azhar. And the only magazine in print, I subscribe to is the Danish magazine on current political affairs, Raeson.

What do all these have in common for me as a paying user:

(1) I can never guess what they are going to put out based on prior history, and it’s perfectly fine, because…

(2) I subscribe for the insights and outcome. Nothing else. And I am willing to pay for that – and continue to do so.

The last point is important. I strongly – STRONGLY – believe that the key to a great content business – streaming services apart which is a totally different ballgame – is knowledge and insight. That you actually know and have a deep, DEEP expertise in whatever it is, you’re writing or even podcasting about.

And this is where the problem risks returning for the regular newsroom. Because in the effort of doing more with less, be fast and always be breaking, newsrooms have lost a lot of that knowledge and insight that was worth something.

At the same time the internet has enabled the sources to have their own voices and charge for that. They have effectively cut out the middle man.

Which is why – despite promising numbers for digital subscriptions – legacy media will find it just as hard to build a sustainable digital subscription business with what they have got than it was with advertising.

Of course I hope, I will be proven wrong.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

Willingness to pay…for what?

A new study from the Reuters Institute at Oxford University has found that there seems to be a co-relation between users with media subscriptions like Netflix and Spotify and the willingness to pay for online news.

Naturally, legacy media executives are already starting to misinterpret the findings to fit into their own worldview.

A willingness to pay is not a blanket willingness to pay. Willingness to pay is directly associated with value.

And there is just a huge difference between paying a subscription for an evergreen back catalogue of music or movies and then paying for clickbait that rots in less than 30 seconds after publishing.

On the other hand with an established willingness to pay, there is room to ask oneself in the news industry:

“Ok, how can we take a page out of the playbook from Netflix, Spotify and/or others and apply that in our context?”

What you will get from such an exercise is an imminent need to rethink the product to make it more based on perceived customer value.

And – importantly – stop trying to force the public to pay for you being able to maintain a model that is if not completely dead then terminal.

That takes a huge mind shift internally in the media organizations. A mind shift they have so far proven unwilling and thus unable to make.

It has nothing – nothing – to do with willingness to pay.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)