The Subscription Age

You ever get a magazine subscription – and sometimes read it?  You still renew it you know . . . just in case.

Or maybe you get comics in a pull at a comic store.  You buy them, and might even read them.

Or a book club.

Or . . .

Well you get the idea.  We all have experience with subscriptions one way or another.  However in an age of eMedia, DLC games, and the iPad-ness, think about what kind of subscriptions you're going to see.

I think we're going to see a lot more subscriptions in the future.  Your business models, your publishing models, and your estimates on profitability are going to need to keep this in mind.  If you're writer, an ePublisher, a game developer, this will be a factor.

Right now we're getting used to e-meida that allows for episodic delivery – if you use iTunes or get email updates from websites or individuals, you're used to that.  We're also getting used to the ideas of DLC in games, we're used to patches and updates for our computers . . .

We've got technology that allows for the ease of subscription models – eMedia, electronic delivery, DLC – and we're getting used to it.  I'd go as far to say that the future of a lot of media will likely be subscription-based or involve subscriptions of some kind.

That new game DLC will download automatically over time on your console.  The latest chapter of your e-book serial will just be sent to your kindle or iPad or whatever media account.  It's fast and it's convenient and you don't want to think about going to get it.

You see where this is going.  In fact, you're probably nodding at the idea – and happily.

For businesses, this means companies are going to see the power of subscriptions – easy, automatable, marketable, and people will pay for them automatically.  Best of all, many people will use them as "fire-and-forget" even if they don't consume the content, especially if it's cheap enough.  I bet you have one magazine or game right now you don't really read or play.

For content producers, subscription models are a blessing and a curse.  You can produce your content over time, spread it out, make money easier.  On the other hand you have to prepare your content for serial distribution, and you may need to build your reputation over time as opposed to charging into the scene with a full product.

For consumers . . . well let's face it you're still going to be subscribing to a bunch of stuff you don't care about, only electronically.  Don't think people aren't going to find ways to make money off of that.  You'll need to be selective (and you producers of content and business owners will need to be aware of what happens when people are selective)

Welcome to an expanding subscription age.

– Steven Savage