When you're a premium member do you need premium content?


#1

Hey folks.

On the recent Waypoint podcast they talked about how they weren’t even sure what a premium membership for Waypoint would look like. I’ve been a premium member of Giant Bomb since 2010 and supported various paterons through out the years.
My thoughts towards supporting those folks has never really been so I could get access to exclusive content, but just because I wanted them to be able to make want they wanted. If all that content were to become free I would still pay for them.

So, I’m wondering do you feel you need exclusive stuff to support someone’s work?
And, is there value for some one who is NOT established to put their work behind a similar paywall?


#2

I guess I’ll be that person, yes I need something in exchange for me paying. If I like someone enough it doesn’t need to be a lot, an exclusive discord where you can chat with hosts, early long-form content, weird videos, I don’t know, something that makes me feel like I am getting something for my contribution. I don’t make a ton of money and need to spread my money among creators who I not only enjoy but ones where I can enjoy MORE content from them.

Simple answers:

  1. Yes, I can support them socially but I can’t support them monetarily without SOMETHING unique
  2. Probably not? I guess, define established. If the first thing you do is go “pay me for the thing” it is tough to even get attached.

#3

Honestly, when I have money I just like funding what I already enjoy no matter if there’s extra content or not. I did the $5 patreon for Friends at the Table for a few months when I still had an income and I actually never listened to the patreon rewards…I certainly wanted to, but FatT has so much content that I was happy just listening to what I already listened to.

For Giantbomb though, the free content is limited. The podcasts are really the main thing that they put out, besides quick looks which I barely even watch anymore. Their premium content is really where Giantbomb shines, which I feel is an issue for trying to bring new people to Giantbomb but also for fans that are unable to provide monetary compensation for a few months.

So for Waypoint, I could see a little extra content being needed but I also feel that they’re still in the early stages of content creation. The articles should never be held behind a premium membership, and I don’t know if they really have a lot of time for extra videos for the few views that premium would give them. I’d honestly be happy just paying for what’s being given now, and then down the line maybe they can look into adding a little more here or there.

I do think people need to be established before I’d feel good about throwing money at them. The world right now has so much content and entertainment that it’s hard to fund everyone. Needing to be selective is an issue for people trying to get ahead, but it’s the way the system has worked for a while and sadly it’s probably how it’ll stay. Patreon’s not too bad for that, IMO.


#4

Personally, I am a big fan of ad-free subscription models. Recently the Waypoint podcasts I’ve been getting have had an ad for Sightbox that really grates on me and I sorely wish I could pay an amount for an ad-free podcast. I already subscribe to at least one Patreon that provides an ad-free version of their podcast for supporters and I am also happily subscribed to Twitch Prime, primarily for the ad-free experience (I was Twitch Turbo before Prime made it obsolete for anyone who also subscribed to a streamer).

Similar to @Concrete, I do prefer to have something in return for my monetary support, but it doesn’t have to be much. I would happily pay for an ad-free podcast.


#5

It’s tough to feel like your money is making a legitimate impact when it’s a site like Giant Bomb that’s under the wing of an enormous media corporation that partially supports them, and where we’ll never know the details of their budget/funding. I think that’s why their exclusive content feels like an important incentive to premium subscribers.

When it comes to small, independent creators you can often more clearly see how your contribution is directly leading to increased output and higher quality stuff, so I don’t really need them to appease me with extra bonus exclusive things, since what they’re doing is likely already a feat for one person to accomplish on a regular basis. They also have the ability to be more transparent and honest about the costs of different things and what it would take for them to accomplish something, and allow you to contribute accordingly.


#6

Super appreciate you opening this convo (it also links into something @ArcturusOne posted over in the related podcast thread). I’m super curious about what people think about this stuff, but one thing I def wanna make sure is clear is something I only touched on in the pod.

We know that a subset of fans would support our work just to support it–after all, like you D_W, we do the same! But we suspect that a much larger group would support us if we did offer bonus content. That former number is likely pretty small, all said. Even if it was, hypothetically, everyone who had an account on this forum, that’s not enough people to make it cost-effective to move towards a subscription focused model.

Even if we weren’t doing supporter-only content, we’d still need to set up a system for tracking subscribers, collecting payment, CMS integration, and figuring out how to route that through a big company. Not to mention getting all of this approved through legal, sales, etc.

It also would be a pretty light “step” into subscription-based service, and one that would make future offers more complicated across the company, if that were ever to happen. (For instance, again, TOTALLY hypothetical: what if Motherboard goes subscription based and they DO offer a bunch of content? What if we end up building a cross-site subscription offer? Etc.) There’s also the risk that we do a content-free tip jar model, but then what we open ourselves up to is for folks internally to use that as a metric for future subscription based solutions.

It’s one of those weird things because it seems like it would be so easy to add some sort of checkout button to the site like this, but it winds up being a lot more complicated than that.

None of that is meant to hamper conversation here. I’m sincerely curious in a way well beyond Waypoint! But I wanted to make sure some of the practical realities were on the table around this stuff so that the convo could be informed!


#7

Premium content in exchange doesn’t interest me so much because the appeal in supporting people is that I am able to share what they create with people I like.


#8

I have a small Patreon, 3 Patrons (that I appreciate very much!), and I did a change that kind of is like the reverse of adding premium content. When I originally created the Patreon, I had a $5 tier that would put the name of the Patron at the end of my video.

Around the time when the lootbox discussion came up, it got me thinking about other incentives that get people to pay more than they would otherwise, which included premium content like early videos, patron-only discords, and names at the end of videos. Now I wouldn’t say that these are as manipulative as lootboxes, but I couldn’t help but feel that there was a manipulative aspect to them even if that’s not the intention as it excludes non-payers from payers, encouraging people to pay more than they would to not miss out on extra content.

So I decided to take off the $5 tier and just have one tier that doesn’t provide anything extra. I notified my Patrons and kept the tier benefit for one month more. The result is that the total pledge amount dropped somewhat (don’t want to reveal how many patrons and how much money). I took that as evidence I was pushing people to pay much more for a “benefit”, and I didn’t feel comfortable doing that.

At this time I wonder how much money I’m missing out on since I don’t have tiers like that. Reading some of the responses here show at least some amount potentially. Maybe one day I will return to tiers with perks if I feel the need to encourage people to pledge, but knowing that I’m using slightly manipulative tactics like that is a little unsettling.


#9

For me, I know that y’all are already working full-time jobs (and some probably more than full time tbh) so I don’t want you to have to make MORE stuff for some hypothetical extra tier. So that leaves… hiring more people to do that? At what point is it a net positive?

Of the Patreons I support, one is my aunt’s (and there’s like ten people or something actually backing it); one is FatT (I really did want that extra stuff, and I also wanted to back this cool thing I love listening to); and one is Loading Ready Run, where they have goals but the goals affect everyone (such as ad-free streams for all viewers). I really appreciate that the latter have always said that all of their stuff will always be free and accessible to everyone. I know that’s not always feasible, though.


#10

I guess when I support a patreon, I feel like the premium content I’m getting is that this thing I like is still around in a year’s time, which, having seen some cool things fold in my time, isn’t something I take as a given.


#11

Premium content is fine and nice but i think it’s important to get the balance between Premium and Free content right. Like part of the reason i’ve never been a big Giant Bomb fan is that the vast majority of their stuff is behind a paywall and i’m not going to pay for something when i don’t know if i’ll like it. On the other hand, i support a bunch of patreons purely on the strength of their free content - which is good because all their premium content is, frankly, horseshit. Like if you’ve got a podcast, what i want is more of that, not to pay $10 a month to get to vote on who runs your twitter for a month. i’ll still support it, because i like the actual content, but i do feel a little cheated when i get basically nothing after being promised something. Going premium shouldn’t shaft people who can’t afford it or new fans, but it also should offer actual tangible benefits, and if you can’t manage both you should probably find a different way.


#12

I have no idea what Waypoint’s money situation is like (I haven’t listened to the podcast that D_W mentioned yet - maybe the podcast does go over it), but at a cursory glance, the site doesn’t look like it has established its main revenue stream yet. Which could be worrisome. For people who’re big fans of Waypoint and what they do, they probably want some way of supporting the site outside some pity ad clicks - which probably won’t even make a blip on the chart and won’t sustain the site long term.
So I think some sort of premium membership (even if there’s no premium content outside some forum badge, ad free content, or something) or even a patreon page could be a good thing. Perhaps the only sensible thing.


#13

A real good point you bring up that I hadn’t considered despite being very familiar with it in my daily life was the internal corporate politics. I would definitely consider myself a bit of a naive idealist thinking that all creative people could be supported people who just want to see creatives be creative. Obviously we don’t live in a society yet where all people have enough disposable income to make that an actuality.


#14

Agreed, Reading Austin’s post I realized how all the podacsts I support on Patreon are purely independent ventures. Waypoint has quite the “indy” feel (I mean that in a 100% positive sense) so it is easy to forget that they are part of a large media corporation and they can’t just go and throw up a Patreon to see how it goes.

My original statement holds though, I would love an ad-free podcast in exchange for support but I would likely donate some money regardless because I enjoy the content so much.


#15

No ads (of any sort, in any media); no region restrictions once I’ve logged in (for internal services like Vice Video); and no selling my information to external companies (this is kinda the same point as no ads but to be clear, not displaying ads is not enough, the “anonymised” tracking stuff that’s sold as part of running ads must be disabled).

I’d say that this is far more important than (driving memberships with) “premium” content that’s locked away, although early access (“catch X a day early”, “get access to some exclusive live-streams before they get archived”) seems to be another model that’s often used to drive initial memberships without totally restricting content being created. I could see that working quite well.


#16

It’s a small thing, but I’ve wondered for a while now if there’s a reason Waypoint doesn’t/can’t do Twitch subscriptions. I generally like Twitch’s model—i.e., getting things like chat emotes and badges and ad-free viewing but no real “gated” content in the Patreon sense—and since Waypoint makes up a lot of what I watch on there, it feels a bit odd not to be able to support its content in the same way I would/have with other streamers. Even if I didn’t have an unused Prime sub lying around, I’d gladly drop y’all five bucks every month for the several hours of content I end up going through pretty much every week on there.


#17

If there was some kind of subscription thing, I think the most I’d want from it is an ad-free website and podcast because the main appeal to me in monetarily supporting Waypoint is helping ensure its future. There aren’t really any other gaming sites doing what Waypoint is doing, at least not that I know of, so I’d feel pretty lost if it were to disappear one day from not making enough money for Vice or whatever.


#18

I’m of the camp where I’ll occasionally donate a little bit to a person/company just to show support that I like what they’re doing, so no, I personally don’t need anything in return.

I will add, even though I don’t particularly want anything, I wouldn’t be opposed to some of the ideas I’ve seen above like Cheezybob’s idea for ad-free content, or Shivoa’s early-access suggestion. So people can support monetarily if they would like, and no one is locked out of content if they can’t afford it.


#19

Well, of course we’d mostly be happy to throw a couple of bucks towards Waypoint monthly, we’re the kind of folks who sign up on the forums because we give enough of a shit about what Waypoint to do insert ourselves into the community. I doubt most people would do the same. It’s hard enough trying to convince people to do something that’s free (sign up to a newsletter, register on a forum etc).

You’d be surprised at how low the numbers are when you put out a call to action. Something might get a few hundred retweets on twitter with only a dozen or so people clicking through. Asking people to part with their money is even harder, even if it’s only $1.

One thing I think that would make for good #content is more frequent article readings to go with the ones that are currently released every so often. The Into the Breach one that was just released with the short discussion following the article was fantastic. More of those would make for great exclusive content, and if you’re someone who isn’t paying, it’s not like you’re losing access to the actual article.


#20

Just as a Waypoint-specific thought. I really like the articles appearing in the podcast feed, as I tend to listen to podcasts much more than I read the site.

I’m not sure how much extra work it’d be to do more of these, but I’d like a premium feed that includes reading articles like this. It seems a good compromise because the article itself isn’t behind any paywall, but premium members still get something they otherwise couldn’t access.