Two ideas for Premium

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Just read the article about doubling down on Premium, glad to see Paul betting on himself. I just created a free account to post these ideas on how it could be made even better.

To begin with what content I consume, I mostly track Paul on Windows Weekly, have almost 50 unfinished SD video episodes lying around on my tablet, as I start watching them and just finish them up whenever. I also read his writing on thurrott.com, have six posts of his queued up in Chrome tabs, all having to do with google products like the Pixel 2 XL or the Assistant, not particularly interested in Win10 as I haven’t used Windows in a couple years. I’d say I spend much less time reading his writing than I do watching WW.

The first idea I submitted through the contact form when the Premium subscription was announced a year back, but I never got a response then so I thought I’d get some feedback here. As a lot of commenters on the Premium post pointed out, they’re not sure if the subscription is worth it for them. That’s because a subscription is a buffet option, and buffets are only good for those who eat a lot. Most would rather pick a single meal they enjoy, and pay less for that.

Similarly, my idea was to offer a metered plan with smaller payments, ie let me put $5 or $10 into my account and take 5-10 cents out of that balance everytime I read a Premium article. This is perfect for dabblers like me, who may not want the full thurrott.com buffet and the larger bill that comes with it. If I find I’m reading a lot, I’ll naturally upgrade to the subscription buffet, as that will be cheaper for me.

Now I realize a metered plan puts more pressure on this site and its writers, because you’re not getting the guaranteed subscription income stream, but you’re not getting that money already from all the readers who don’t want a buffet and don’t buy a subscription. Obviously a metered billing plan would have to be implemented in the site software, but I can’t imagine it’s that hard.

My second idea is on a way to make money off and improve WW, which I realize Paul doesn’t control, but maybe he can talk to Leo about it. I just skip the WW ad segments in my video player, so other than maybe hearing the first and last brand name when Leo starts and ends the ads, I have no idea about those products and services.

I noted earlier that I haven’t finished many WW episodes, a big part of that is that I’ll hit a stretch I’m not interested in, usually some MS enterprise news, and never come back to the episode. Sometimes I’ll start up an old episode again while I’m doing something else, so I can get through those boring parts.

It strikes me that there should be a way for viewers to only see the topics they’re interested in, a service that I and I’m sure others would be willing to pay for. You could still provide the full uncut two to three hour show with ads like you do now for the diehards. For the rest of us, you could provide a WW video app that shows a topic outline for the show, so I can jump to the video segments that interest me.

Alternately, if some want a video file they download, let them customize it by checking off the topics they’re interested in, then give them a link to download an automatically generated video file that stitches together all those video segments. Obviously, the video’d be jumpy since it’s automatically cut together, but that’s no different from jumping around video segments in an app. A really low-tech option would be to put the topic timestamps behind a paywall and just make them download the same full video as the diehards, then use the timestamps to navigate to the topics themselves.

Many video sites offer both these options nowadays: a free ad-supported way to view videos along with a paid ad-free version, no reason WW couldn’t do the same but with the added topic feature. Obviously some intern would have to compile the topics and timestamps, but if viewers are paying for that info, the money is there to pay him.

Let me end by saying I’m a big believer in paying for news and analysis like that found on this site and WW. Many major sites, like the WSJ, NYT, WaPo, Netflix, CBS, etc. have moved to that paid model. All indications are that the formerly dominant media advertising business model is on its way out.

However, almost all these media websites use buffet subscription plans, which means they make no money off people like me who can’t justify buying a ton of buffet meals. I bet the dabblers like me are a much larger majority of those who read the NYT or thurrott.com, but we’re not given a paid choice to skip the ads. A metered plan would give us that option, but almost no media site has been smart enough to put one in, which speaks to the lack of innovation in this hidebound business.

Perhaps thurrott.com can lead the way in introducing metered plans, hope this happens and I’ll be one of the first to buy it. Thanks for reading my long, long post. 😉

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