How many subscriptions can you afford?
Would you pay to use Instagram and YouTube in the same way you pay for Netflix and… well, The New York Times?
“People like paying for news.” These are the first words from one of many, many articles that came out this month celebrating The New York Times’ subscription revenue growth. Forget the obvious mistake here of worshiping The New York Times because it runs its own role-playing (media) game, instead relish the real buffoonery: Do “people like paying for news?”.
Sorry to spoil your Hudson Sour, but it’s highly unlikely that people like paying for anything. Paying for things is like filing taxes or eating cauliflower: the fact that we do it doesn’t mean that we find any pleasure in it.
Today, media is spellbound by the supernatural powers of the subscription model. “Here comes a new game service,” “Hulu is going to be huge,” “MoviePass is the next big thing,” “ESPN is joining the game”… and these are just a few results from a lazy two-day data collection.
Honestly, how many subscriptions do they believe we can afford?
Although that’s a rhetorical question, it’s related to two other non-rhetorical issues: 1) what would happen if YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and the whole troop decided to join the subscription party? (I’m aware of YouTube Red, we’ll get to that) and 2) based on their hypothetical price range, would we all discover that we are already paying too much or too little for our usual media services?
Two of the most popular services out there — Netflix and Spotify — come with similar price tags: $10.99 and $9.99. The most flagrant difference is that Netflix subscribers spend on average 1h36m/day using the service, while Spotify folks spend less than half of that: 44 minutes. Since apparently we’re living The New York Times appreciation day(s), let’s take a look: $20/month for digital access, crossword puzzles and recipes, which means I honestly hope their readers devote more than 1h30m each day reading the news (or doing the crossword at the very least).