industry: media

Netflix is testing cheaper mobile-only subscription tiers

Netflix is testing cheaper mobile-only subscription tiers

Excerpts from the article by Julia Alexander on The Verge

The number of people who use mobile devices as a primary option to stream Netflix is growing worldwide, which makes it no surprise that the company is reportedly testing a new payment plan specifically targeting mobile users.

A report from Malaysian newspaper The Star says that Netflix is exploring a mobile-only subscription plan that would cut the membership cost by approximately 50 percent. Phones and tablets account for 35 percent of global Netflix signups, according to a report from Recode earlier this year. The growth of mobile Netflix users, especially in countries where mobile usage outpaces time spent watching traditional TV or time on a computer, is constant.

Cameron Johnson, Netflix’s director of product innovation, said in July that 60 percent of members around the world now open Netflix’s mobile app at least once a month to watch a TV show or movie. Part of Netflix’s product plan includes creating better tools for mobile users who can now download TV shows for offline viewing. The company is leaning into customers who want to spend more time on their phones and tablets, and it’s seemingly introducing a cheaper tier specifically for those customers.


Right now, it appears Netflix is testing these new tiers in international markets. That makes sense considering mobile usage as a primary option for browsing and consuming entertainment is increasingly popular in Asian and East Asian countries. Mobile-first continents, like Asia and Africa, are seeing the biggest increase in consistent mobile users, according to a study from earlier this year. While mobile usage continues to expand and grow in the United States — 77 percent of Americans use smartphone devices, according to a Pew report from this year — it’s still not as big of a market.

Netflix also wants to expand its reach in international markets since that’s where the biggest concentration of growth is. Nearly 79 million of Netflix’s total of 137 million subscribers are international, according to a recent earnings report. Offering cheaper plans targeted at primary mobile users is a way to increase that growth.

The Verge has reached out to Netflix to see if there are plans to bring mobile-specific subscription tiers to the United States.

‘It’s a relationship’: Why Quartz is leaning on community for its first membership product

‘It’s a relationship’: Why Quartz is leaning on community for its first membership product

Excerpts from the article by Max Willens on DigiDay

Publishers looking for consumer revenue are realizing that unlimited access to content, or an ad-light experience, often isn’t good enough. That’s why Quartz is hoping to build a community around a new membership program that includes events, exclusive content and regular conference calls with Quartz staffers.

On Tuesday, the recently-acquired business news publisher announced the launch of a paid membership tier, which costs $14.99 per month or $99 per year; the price for the annual tier will increase to $150 per year in 2019. Separately, Quartz also launched a new, free app that adds a layer of community interaction to news, with Quartz staffers as well as a stable of business luminaries, including Sir Richard Branson, able to provide comments and commentary on stories shared within the app.

The membership is built around a mixture of content and community features including weekly, in-depth reports on hot-button business ideas called field guides, the ability for members to suggest questions for Q&As and regular conference calls between members and Quartz journalists. The publisher will also begin hosting exclusive member events starting in 2019.

Quartz’s membership joins an increasingly crowded field of consumer offerings being brought to market by digital publishers, ranging from exclusive products like The Information, which can cost up to $749 for an individual subscription to incremental add-ons from legacy digital players like Yahoo, which announced it would be launching a paid version of Yahoo Finance in 2019.

Most of the most expensive publisher offerings focus on skills. “The clearer it is that your membership solves a real problem for readers, the more you’re going to edge toward that higher price point,” said Rob Ristagno, the founder of Sterling Woods Group. “You’ve got to make them more skilled at their job, or you’ve got to make them more successful at something they’re enthusiastic about.”

The Quartz offering splits the difference, delivering in-depth looks at important business topics aimed at readers unfamiliar with them, while adding community dimension as well.

“We chose the word ‘membership’ deliberately,” said Zach Seward, Quartz’s chief product officer. “In addition to the content you get, it’s a relationship with Quartz.”

Quartz was already on the growing list of publishers trying to increase consumer revenue. It produced and sold a hard cover book at the end of 2017, and at the end of August, it launched Quartz Private Key, a newsletter about cryptocurrency and blockchain, which has amassed “hundreds” of subscribers and has surpassed the publisher’s early revenue targets.

Read the full article on DigiDay

Disney unveils the name of its Netflix competitor

Disney unveils the name of its Netflix competitor, plus new Marvel and Star Wars shows

Excerpts from the article by Matt Binder on Mashable

Disney’s Netflix competitor finally has a name.

The long-awaited Disney video-streaming service will be known simply as Disney+. Company CEO Bob Iger unveiled the name during a Thursday earnings call. Iger also announced that the service will launch in the U.S. in late 2019.

Disney has been planning its video-streaming service since at least 2017 when the company said it was going to end its multi-year contract with Netflix and pull all of its content off the service. The reason for doing so was simple. Disney wants to move all of its properties — including Disney classics, Pixar movies, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and Star Wars films — to its very own streaming platform.

In a press release following the Disney+ announcement, the company also released more information about some of the new content planned for the service.

Diego Luna will reprise his Star Wars role as Cassian Andor in a spinoff series that takes place before the events of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. This will be the second Star Wars TV series on the Disney+ service following the announcement of Jon Favrou’s The Mandalorian series last month.

As for the Marvel, Disney confirmed a Loki series that was rumored last month. Tom Hiddleston will be returning to the MCU to play Loki on the Disney+ show. However, there’s no word yet on a Scarlet Witch series that was also previously discussed.

Other Disney properties mentioned in the press release that will receive new stories in the form of movies or TV shows include Disney Channel’s High School Musical and Pixar’s Monsters Inc.

We don’t yet know how much the Disney+ streaming service will cost, but you can now go to Disney+’s official website to sign up for future updates.

To goose subscriber growth, The New York Times plans to try a flexible meter

To goose subscriber growth, The New York Times plans to try a flexible meter

Excerpts from the article by Lucia Moses on Digiday

The New York Times is planning to introduce a dynamic paywall as it moves into the next phase of its subscription business by focusing on improving retention and reducing churn.

During the company’s third-quarter earnings call, CEO Mark Thompson said the publisher had a strong quarter, with more than 3 million digital subscriptions and 4 million subscriptions in all — the biggest gain in digital subs since the Trump bump right after the 2016 election. The growth has come at some cost, though; the average revenue per user decline 1 percent over the year-ago and prior quarter, and decreases in ARPU are expected to continue into the fourth quarter, company execs said.

That pressure mainly came from steep discounting. The Times had a $1-a-week introductory offer in place for six weeks that yielded strong subscription growth but at the expense of revenue. The Times also lowered its meter to four articles a month from five that visitors can read before hitting the paywall.

Thompson said on the call that the Times would be experimenting with introductory pricing; meter count; registration and login; and bundling in the fourth quarter and into 2019.

Hannah Yang, svp of consumer revenue at the Times, said the goal of these more sophisticated experiments into how different meter counts impact conversion was to increase signups and subscribers’ lifetime value. Unlike other publishers, the Times isn’t customizing the article level experience at an individual level but will increase the meter level for everyone at once, she told Digiday.

“We get subscribers from all different parts of the engagement funnel,” she said. “We’re sort of in the early stages of figuring out what is the right price for which group and what is the right article limit for the right group.”

Read the full article on Digiday

CNN Plans to Offer Subscriptions for Digital News Next Year

Excerpts from an article by Benjamin Mullin in The Wall Street Journal

After investing in digital “verticals,” or distinct web brands, focused on business and politics and acquiring an online-video startup, CNN is gearing up for another big step: the launch of tiered subscription offerings for its digital news business as early as the second quarter of next year.

A proposed premium offering will give subscribers access to special content on topic-specific verticals, such as CNN Money and CNN Politics, built around network personalities. A second option will provide additional, though less specialized, content across all of CNN’s sites. Pricing hasn’t been finalized.

“We have to find more subscription products,” said network president Mr. Jeff Zucker said in an interview. “We have to experiment with e-commerce. And I think we have to find ways to monetize mobile traffic.”

The move is part of a broader five-year plan to develop new revenue streams and reach $1 billion in digital revenue by 2022. CNN’s digital arm expects to pull in $370 million this year, according to a person familiar with its financials.

Read the full article in The Wall Street Journal