Heading into a long weekend, we bring you articles on adding, tipping and changing in the subscription world. The New York Times has already made changes to the popular word game Wordle, despite promises not to, and Tumblr adds a tip jar as a second monetization option for creators. After a kerfuffle with subscribers, fuboTV adds monthly subscriptions back to its list of subscription options, ViacomCBS reports growth and an upcoming rebrand, and Instagram rolls out new features for creators.
Tumblr Lets Fans and Followers Tip Their Favorite Creators
Tumblr recently announced another way for creators to monetize their content with their new Tip Jar Feature. After popular demand, they created the service to allow for a win-win situation, and not allow for a recurring payment plan.
Previously, Tumblr had just allowed creators to use Post+ to monetize their content. When Tumblr first announced this feature, it was met with controversy. In a blog post, they opened up a way for supporters to back their favorite content with monetary donations, starting as little as $1.99 per month. There was a Tumblr account made in protest of the direct the social media site was headed, and a protest of Post+ was planned. There were more than 63,000 reactions to the post, and Tumblr invited users to provide feedback. Creators that weren’t keen on this idea provided external links to their Ko-Fi and Patreon accounts to facilitate payments there.
Tumblr stated that their tip jar concept was simple. A user can select a “Tip” tap on a post they want to support and are able to choose an amount. They will also be able to send a message with their gift, and can see other users who have also sent tips on that post. If someone doesn’t want their username attached, they can also submit a tip anonymously. In Tumblr’s blog post, they also shared that the feature would be available in the US, and will be rolling out on a wider scale soon.
Neowin reports that the limit on Tips is $100. TechCrunch shared that Tumblr would not be taking a cut of creator earnings, but creators would have to absorb credit card fees. These credit card fees would be 2.9% of the tip, plus 30 cents, which is pretty standard in the industry. Tumblr will also not be relying on Apple and Google’s internal billing systems to facilitate payments that come through on mobile apps, avoiding the 30% extra fee.
Currently, Tumblr’s plan for the Tip Jar is to act as a complement to Post+. However, we are still unaware of the state of Post+ after its backlash. It is unclear how successful Post+ has been after its initial beta launch, and Bodhan Kit of Tumblr was not keen on expressing numbers.
The New York Times Reworks Wordle
It has been a few weeks since The New York Times acquired Wordle for a low seven figures. Josh Wardle created the game for free in October, and by January, had accumulated over 300,000 users daily. Wordle remains free, and when acquired, New York Times said that it would still be free. The Times also said they would not be making any changes to how the game is played.
Despite promising not to make changes, it appears that The Times has already reworked Wordle. Wordle merged into The Times’ site on February 15 (be sure to update your bookmark, Wordle fans!), and it appears they started making changes right away. The Verge stated that the game “plays” the same, but there are minor differences.
For example, The Times took vulgar words out of possible guesses. Users that were able to save the Power Language version of Wordle and the New York Times version of Wordle noticed there was a discrepancy with answers one day, and found that The Times had just skipped an answer after finding a site with Wordle answers. Other users have noted that since Wordle has merged onto The Times’ site, the puzzles have been much harder to solve. Ars Technica stated that some users weren’t able to maintain their existing streaks for Wordle.
Mikey Slezak from ABC News reached out to Wordle to ask what happened. In an email he shared on Twitter, The Times stated, “We are updating the word list over time to remove obscure words to keep the puzzle accessible to more people, as well as insensitive or offensive words. [Redacted] is an example of an obscure word. Solvers on the old word list can likely update to the new list by refreshing their browsers.”
It has also been speculated that The Times would eventually be added it to their popular Games subscription, joining other word games like Spelling Bee, Letter Boxed and Tiles. That change seems likely in the relatively near future, especially if The Times wants to hit 15 million digital-only subscribers by the end of 2027. Who knows what other changes they may have in store for Wordle.
fuboTV Returns to Monthly Pricing After Quarterly Pricing “Experiment”
Easy come, easy go. Two weeks ago, FuboTV ditched its monthly subscription plans, moving to quarterly payment plans instead of monthly ones, reports Cord Cutters News. The company confirmed that they were experimenting with quarterly plan options for new subscribers. Quarterly prices started at $194.96 per quarter for the Starter plan and went up to $239.97 per quarter for the Elite Quarterly plan.
Several media sources said FuboTV is returning to monthly plan options, making it one of the shorter business model/pricing experiments we’ve heard of lately. The TV Answer Man, Philip Swann, speculated in a February 16 column that he thought FuboTV was trying to avoid churn from new subscribers signing up for the streaming service just to get access to the Olympics and/or the Super Bowl. Conveniently, the pricing returned to monthly plans yesterday – less than a week after the Super Bowl and just prior to the end of the Winter Olympics. It seems Swann was right.
It is always smart to test your business model and experiment with different pricing options and frequencies, but transparency and customer experience should also be considered. Unexpected pricing changes could have unintended consequences as many other subscription companies can attest when they’ve tried – and failed – to adjust pricing without transparent communication with subscribers and prospects.
ViacomCBS Reports Financials, Announces Rebrand
On Tuesday, ViacomCBS reported their fourth-quarter and full-year 2021 financials. Among the highlights were a 16% increase in total company revenue to $8 billion. This included quarterly global revenue of $1.3 billion, a 48% increase year-over-year. They also added 9.4 million global streaming customers, driven by Paramount+, the rebranded version of their CBS All Access streaming subscription.
President and CEO Bob Bakish commented on the company’s results in a February 15, 2022 news release.
“In the fourth quarter you saw the power of strategy and strength of execution across the company. Our success was evident across all lines of business, and spotlighted by streaming, where we achieved our best quarter ever in streaming subscription growth – more than doubling our subscriber additions from last quarter with a record 9.4M additions, expanding our total global streaming subscribers to over 56M,” said Bakish.
“And, to top it off, we saw meaningful acceleration in our global Pluto TV MAUs, to reach over 64M and generate over $1 billion in revenue in the year. This sets us up well for 2022, where I’m tremendously excited to continue to build on this powerful momentum – investing in global content, distribution, and market expansion – to further drive scale,” Bakish added.
The very next day, the company announced they were rebranding from ViacomCBS to Paramount. The change went into effect February 16.
“An iconic global company deserves an iconic global name,” Bob Bakish, president/chief executive officer, and Shari Redstone, non-executive chair of the company’s board of directors, said in a joint memo to ViacomCBS staff. “One that reflects the power of our content; one that reflects our role as stewards of a rich heritage and as leaders in the future of entertainment. With this in mind, as we’re announcing today at our investor event, ViacomCBS is becoming Paramount Global, or, more simply, Paramount.”
Instagram Rolls Out New Features for Users
Last week, on #SaferInternetDay (no, we didn’t know either), Instagram announced some of their features for creators. These weren’t brand new features, but they were features Instagram has been testing. Here are two features to try now:
Security Checkup: Instagram started testing this last summer for people who had their accounts hacked. It is now available to everyone. It guides Insta users through steps to secure their account including checking login activity, reviewing profile information, confirming shared login info., etc. To check out the new feature, go to your Profile, tap the menu in the upper right corner, hit Settings, Security and Security Checkup.
Your Activity: Want to see all your Insta activity in one spot? You can now bulk manage your content, including posts, stories, videos and Reels, and your interactions and reactions (search history, links visited, etc.). You can also sort and filter your content. To check out your activity, go to your Profile, tap the menu in the upper right corner, and click on Your Activity.
Other features that are or will soon be available including getting help from friends to help confirm their identity to get access to their Insta accounts, finding out if you’ve posted something that goes against Insta’s community guidelines, and seeing your support requests.
Get all the deets on Instagram’s blog for what’s new and coming soon!