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People – publishers – are constantly asking us “what will people pay for?” Needless to say, that is quite the existential, open-ended question if I’ve ever heard one. One thing that I do know, and was reinforced earlier today, more on that in a minute, is that there is a high degree of correlation between a person’s passions and their willingness to open their wallet. And with fall right around the corner, America’s greatest sports passion is upon us, football, professional, college, and otherwise. And, oh yea, people will pay for their football content.
Just this morning, The IlliniBoard – http://illiniboard.com – joined the Tinypass fold. The site covers all things football, and basketball, related to The University of Illinois out of the Big Ten. The founders of the site, like many of our publishing partners, bemoan what up until now has been the only real monetization route available to online content creators, i.e. advertising, or in the words of the Illini crew, “clicks”. Check out their great post on their decision to go with Tinypass in order to lay the foundation for a more sustainable business model – http://illiniboard.com/2013/08/28/clicks.
Another manifestation of our culture’s obsession with the pigskin is fantasy football, and enterprising sites such as RotoViz – http://rotoviz.com – are using Tinypass to cash in. According to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association (FSTA), yes, there is a trade association for fantasy sports consisting of 140 member companies, more than 33 million Americans are active participants.
So there you have it, one answer to the media question of the moment.
Today, expressing and sustaining a point-of-view that isn’t necessarily consistent with that of the mainstream media is a reality thanks to powerful, low cost digital tools. Those in the know call it going over-the-top (OTT). Rather than deliver video and audio content via a traditional multiple system operator (MSO), i.e. a cable company, content owners use the same broadband pipes to deliver content straight to their fans. Viewers are then free to watch their favorite content when and where they want to on the device of their choice – Internet-connected televisions, computers, tablets, and smart phones.
Former Congressman and Presidential candidate Dr. Ron Paul – see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ron_Paul for a full bio – has chosen to connect with his legion of like-minded libertarians via The Ron Paul Chanel – see http://www.ronpaulchannel.com.
The channel, which launched August 12th, will air original programming several times a week and will be available to subscribers live or on-demand. Subscriptions will cost $9.95 per month and provide subscribers with direct access to Dr. Paul and a diverse array of guests.
An email promoting the launch of the channel laid out Dr. Paul’s vision for his new platform:
“The Ron Paul Channel will be a platform for the truth that you won’t hear anywhere else. We’ll feature the boldest, most fearless patriots in our movement and bring you the news and information everyone else is afraid to cover. We won’t play favorites, we won’t be influenced by advertisers, and we won’t be censored. The Ron Paul Channel will be OUR channel!”
Tinypass is thrilled to play its part in helping to ensure a diverse media landscape. Check out http://www.ronpaulchannel.com/video/ron-paul-trailer for a preview of what Dr. Paul’s new venture has in store.
Since 1974, first as a glossy magazine, then as a weekly paper, and now as an increasingly digital organization, the Little Rock-based Arkansas Times has provided essential cultural, political and hard news coverage of the Natural State.
Needless to say, the economics underpinning the operations of organizations such as The Times has changed dramatically since 1974. Recognizing the extent of the current changes impacting their business, the leadership at The Times has partnered with Tinypass to help chart a new path forward.
Alan Leveritt, the publisher of Arkansas Times, summed up the reasons for the Times’ new, paid digital content strategy back in late July.
“Ten years ago, we subsisted entirely on advertising. But like most print publications, we’ve lost advertisers to the web, where five companies — AOL, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo — get 64 percent of all money spent on digital advertising. While we’ve largely been more successful in selling web and print advertising than our peers, we’ll likely never make up print losses with web advertising dollars.
Newspapers across the country are shriveling up and dying. Yet even in these challenging times, among our peers who publish similar weeklies and websites across the country, we spend almost double the norm on our editorial budget. Why? Because I believe Arkansas needs a strong progressive voice.
We can’t continue to produce aggressive, trenchant, independent reporting and analysis without increased reader support. A new model for funding, in which readers bear a share of our costs, is vital to the future of the Times.
That’s why, on Aug. 1, Arkansas Times will introduce a digital membership plan. Access to our daily content — on four blogs, the Arkansas Blog, Eat Arkansas, Eye Candy and Rock Candy — will be metered. All readers will receive 10 blog views per month for free, after which only members who pay $9.99 per month or $110 per year will have access. Access to the rest of the site — the calendar, dining listings and what appears in the print edition of the Times — will continue to be free.
We follow many other respected media in adapting to changes in our business with a digital membership, from the New York Times to many Arkansas newspapers. We take a page, too, from the much-lauded Texas Tribune, which has become an online political news source solely from reader and charitable contributions.”
You can see a fantastic video of Alan discussing the past, present, and future of the Times and the importance of institutions like it throughout the country –http://bit.ly/15M1e3k.
One of the great privileges of being a part of Tinypass is having a front row seat to the transformation sweeping the media industry as well as being able to help enterprises both large and small, from diversified media companies to independent filmmakers, seize on the opportunity created by the current upheaval. It is in this spirit that we are excited to add Arkansas Times to our growing roster of publishing partners.
It’s been two weeks since we partnered with Esquire magazine to ask readers of its web site to pay $1.99 for Luke Dittrich’s piece on Dr. Eben Alexander, author of The New York Time’s bestseller “Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife” and we are thrilled by both the early results of our partnership as well as by the conversation that it has sparked. As of this afternoon, searching on ‘Esquire paywall’ in Google returns more than 79,000 results.
The Tinypass/Esquire implementation is acting as a catalyst for a conversation that we feel has been a long time coming. Media pundits from the excellent Ken Doctor at Harvard’s Neiman Lab – see http://bit.ly/Iy7Rdx – to Reuter’s provocative Felix Salmon – see http://bit.ly/146hIGk – have respectfully theorized on the “newsonomics of small things” and “iTunes pricing as a model for journalism”. By acting rather than navel-gazing, the forward thinking team at Esquire is putting theory into practice.
Reactions to Esquire’s charging for content direct from its own site has elicited a wide-range of reactions, bringing out everyone’s inner designer, copy editor, business strategist, and technologist, just to name a few disciplines. We think it is great. As the indomitable Teddy Roosevelt famously said:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
To use a tired cliché, we really are in the first inning, perhaps batting practice, of paid media models on the Open Web. The range of approaches runs from charging subscriptions for access to sites, i.e. taking what has worked offline and applying it online, today’s batting practice, to the sorts of ideas proposed by Federated Media founder and CEO John Battelle, who lays out a world where paid content meets the social web and price elasticity – see http://bit.ly/12ileYL.
End-users paying for content is nothing new and we here at Tinypass believe that this will continue to be the case as we transition from analog to digital consumption. While we may not know precisely how everything is going to shake out, we are certain about our mission, helping enable sustainable business models for the Fourth Estate.
Tom Belford and Roger Craver have had a hand in helping launch and build a practical Who’s Who of non-profit organizations, including Common Cause, The National Organization for Women, the ACLU, the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, Amnesty International and dozens of other major organizations, both in the U.S. and in Europe. The two offer up their extensive expertise in fundraising and marketing strategies for nonprofits via their site The Agitator – http://www.theagitator.net.
In an effort to create a sustainable future for their niche publication, Belford and Craver turned to Tinypass. The two nonprofit fundraising professionals proactively engaged with their audience regarding their paid content plan and in the process gained their buy in. Using a metered paywall and Tinypass’ name-your-own-pricing feature, The Agitator’s future is looking bright. Though the paid plan officially goes live on July 8th, many in The Agitator community have already signed on to support the site. Check out http://www.theagitator.net/dont-miss-these-posts/the-walls-going-up-but-special-reprieve-granted to read the appeal direct from Roger and Tom.