Three weeks into the new year and subscription companies are gearing up for a successful year. In this week’s edition of Five on Friday, Apple extends the free trial for Apple TV+ (again), Deliveroo raises $180 million to accelerate growth, and ViacomCBS announces a launch date for its rebranded CBS All Access streaming services – Paramount+. Also, we share the best times to share your subscription company’s post to social media, and we compare some of the fitness subscription services competing for subscribers this year.
Apple Extends Apple TV+ Free Trial Until July 2021
For customers who received a free subscription because of an Apple device purchase, Apple is extending the free trial period for its premium streaming service Apple TV+ again. The most recent extension is set to expire at the end of January. For anyone whose service was set to expire between now and June, Apple is extending free trials for Apple TV+ until July, reports 9to5 Mac. This free trial extension also includes customers who have an annual subscription that expires between February and June. Those customers will get service from their expiration date until July.
Customers who are paying monthly subscribers to Apple TV+ will get a $4.99 credit between February and June to offset the cost of their subscription. This includes Apple One subscribers who get Apple TV+ as part of their subscription bundle.
Why would Apple extend the free trial period yet again? Our guess is that Apple is beefing up its content catalog, and it doesn’t have enough paying subscribers yet. They want to entice as many viewers as possible to the premium streaming subscription service in the hopes they’ll convert into paying customers. Though they've produced some award-winning and popular content, like The Morning Show and Ted Lasso, their catalog of programs is limited compared to Netflix, Hulu and Disney+.
This is a similar strategy to HBO Max. When the premium streaming video subscription service launched last May, WarnerMedia included HBO Max for many viewers who were already getting HBO. For example, HBO viewers who view shows through the app and subscribed through the Amazon Appstore, Apple, Google Play, etc. already have access to HBO Max without an additional subscription fee. Many of those viewers signed up, or are eligible to sign up, to get HBO Max, but that doesn’t always mean they are actually watching it or that they’d pay for it if they did. Viewership and access do not necessarily translate into subscription revenue.
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ViacomCBS’s Rebranded CBS All Access, Paramount+, Set to Launch March 4
In related streaming news, ViacomCBS’s streaming service Paramont+, the rebranded version of CBS All Access, is set to begin its roll out on March 4. CBS All Access is currently already available, but ViacomCBS made the decision to rebrand the streaming service last summer. When the company announced the rebrand, they said the new and improved CBS All Access would be a “super service,” building on the company’s deep content catalog which includes originals, Paramount films, and 15,000 hours of TV and movie content, plus live sports. ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish said the goal of the rebranding and refresh is to appeal to younger audiences.
“We are accelerating our plans for an expanded, building off our CBS All Access platform with major changes coming this summer as we track towards the re-brand and re-launch of a transformed product,” Bakish said. “We believe audiences want their entertainment on demand and their news, sports and events live. And through our expanded offering, we will be the service that gives them what they want, how they want it, all in one all in one place and at a great value. This will be a compelling foundational service for some consumers and a differentiated complement to what some other consumers already have.”
In addition to Paramount+, ViacomCBS owns a range of global brands including:
- CBS and CBS Interactive
- CBS News, CBS Sports, CBS Sports Network and CBS Studios
- Comedy Central
- Paramount and Paramount Network
- Smithsonian Channel
- Simon & Schuster
Starting at $5.99 a month, Paramount+ will continue to offer a huge content library, providing great value for subscribers and solid recurring revenue for ViacomCBS. With promises of an improved user experience, we only see one hiccup – and it is more a personal preference. We’d love to see one new subscription launch that doesn’t include a + sign! Everyone is doing it, so subscribers are familiar with it, but we’d love to see a little originality.
Deliveroo, Now Valued at $7B, Raises $180M in Latest Funding Round
The U.K.’s version of DoorDash, Deliveroo, has raised $180 million ahead of potential plans to file for an initial public offering in a funding round led by Durable Capital Partners LP and Fidelity Management & Research Company LLC. The investment brings the food delivery service’s valuation to approximately $7 billion, reports PYMNTS.com.
“This investment will help us to continue to innovate, developing new tech tools to support restaurants, to provide riders with more work and to extend choice for customers, bringing them the food they love from more restaurants than ever before,” said Deliveroo founder and CEO Will Shu.
The funding will be used to expand the company’s services in several areas, including growing their Editions delivery-only kitchen sites, expand the company’s on-demand grocery delivery service, which has become more popular during the pandemic, making the company’s Plus subscription service available in more locations, and allowing restaurants to use Deliveroo’s Signature service so diners can order food directly from the restaurant websites, increasing their sales.
“I have been impressed with the team's ability to spot opportunities, innovate and adapt to changes in the market. The online food delivery market is nascent and underpenetrated. We believe Deliveroo has the potential to become a much bigger company over time,” said Henry Ellenbogen, Managing Partner and Chief Investment Officer at Durable Capital Partners LP.
Like food delivery services in the United States, Deliveroo stepped up during the pandemic to help restaurants, consumers and their team of delivery riders in a range of ways. For example, Deliveroo reduced the onboarding fees, increased how fast payments were processed, developed new services, and lowered commissions on pick-up orders to 0%. To help those sheltering in place during the pandemic, Deliveroo expanded the services it made available while ensuring riders and customers were both safe. Riders also received appropriate PPE, and Deliveroo donated hundreds of thousands of free meals to support the U.K.’s NHS.
A Quick Guide to the Best Times to Post to Social Media
Social media has become an excellent tool for subscription and membership companies to get in front of their target audiences. They can spread their messages far and wide, test different messages, and even use social media as a customer service tool. But when are the best times to post on the various platforms? Each company and industry will have a slightly different experience, and they should tailor their social media calendar to what works for them. However, Melanie Tamble shared good guidelines with Social Media Today to give you a good starting point. The infographic says it all, but here’s a quick guide to help you determine when your subscription company should be posting and where.
- Facebook: Tamble says your frequency should be two times; best days for posts Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday; post once between 1 and 4 p.m. and between 6 and 10 p.m. This can get tricky though depending on your time zone.
Twitter: Tamble recommends three times a day. Because the shelf life of a tweet is so short, we prefer a higher frequency. Mornings from 8 to 10 a.m., lunchtime from 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., and early evening from 5 to 6 p.m. are optimal. Monday through Friday are the most popular days. At Subscription Insider, we post daily, but we change the hours on the weekends, hoping that no one is scrolling through Twitter as early as they do on weekdays.
- Instagram: Tamble says that once or twice a day is a good frequency for Insta with posts around the lunch hour and between 7 and 9 p.m. at night. The best days for posts are Monday, Wednesday and Thursday.
- LinkedIn: Once a day is a good frequency for LinkedIn and stay away from weekends. LinkedIn is considered a professional networking and job search site, so your target audience is hopefully taking a break from the platform on Saturday and Sunday. Tamble recommends Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday as the best days.
For more graphics and tips, read Tamble’s article, “The Best Times to Post Your Social Media Updates in 2021 [Infographic]” on Social Media Today.
Fitness Subscriptions Compete for Customers in New Year
Apple launched Apple Fitness+ on December 14. For $9.99 a month or $79.99 per year for a household of up to six people, subscribers can access a host of popular workouts including high intensity interval training (HIIT), strength, yoga, dance, core, cycling, treadmill (for running and walking), rowing, and mindful cooldown. Existing Apple Watch users get a free month-long trial, and Apple Watch Series 3 buyers will get three months to try out the service. Apple Fitness+ offers subscribers lots of options, allowing them to choose their trainer, time, type of workout and music. The fitness subscription also offers intelligent recommendations based on previous activity in the Fitness+ app, the Apple Watch Workout app, and other third-party fitness apps that integrate with the Health app. More details are available at Apple.com.
Fitbit, acquired by Google earlier this week, offers a range of fitness trackers, smartwatches, scales and accessories, as well as premium subscription services to use with Fitbit products. Fitbit Premium is $9.99 a month, or $79.99 a year, a savings of 30%. For a limited time, the free trial has been extended to 90 days. Fitbit Premium includes advanced insights, stress and mindfulness tools, sleep tools, games and challenges, workouts and guided programs. Fitbit also offers a premium subscription service that includes Fitbit Premium and health coaching. This Fitbit Premium service is $54.99 a month following a seven-day free trial. It includes everything that Fitbit Premium offers plus a personal action plan, unlimited in-app messaging, data-driven guidance, and 1-on-1 coaching. Learn more about Fitbit.com.
Yesterday Mindbody, a technology platform for health and wellness, launched Mindbody Flex, the company’s first membership that gives subscribers virtual access to more than 350 fitness studios. Exhale, barre3, Wundabar Pilates, Modo Yoga and Jabz Boxing are among the studios where members can access thousands of live streamed fitness classes like yoga, HIIT, barre and Pilates for a monthly membership fee. Mindbody Flex offer different plan options featuring 5 ($39/month), 10 ($59/month) or 20 ($99/month) live stream classes per month with up to three classes per month at members’ favorite studios. The Flex membership program currently offers a two-week free trial. Get details on the Mindbody website.
MIRROR is an almost-invisible piece of equipment that subscribers buy and put in their homes. Delivery and professional installation of the MIRROR are included in the purchase price which starts at $1,495, or $42 per month. A MIRROR membership, which allows members to workout with the MIRROR, is separate. For $39 a month, with a minimum one-year commitment, members can try more than 50 different genres of workout (e.g., Tai Chi, kettleball, yoga, boxing, barre, bootcamp), ranging from five to 60 minutes in length, and created for beginners as well as experts. Members can access 1:1 personal training for an additional fee, live and on-demand classes, and a membership can be used on an unlimited basis for up to six members of a family. MIRROR was acquired by Lululemon last summer for $500 million. Get details about MIRROR, including promotional pricing, at Mirror.co.
Similar to WW, MyFitnessPal is a health and wellness app that helps users track their food, nutrition and activity. Utilizing a freemium model, MyFitnessPal offers a basic free version, as well as a premium product with a one-month free trial. For $9.99 a month or $49.99 a year, MyFitnessPal Premium includes customizable nutrition and fitness plans, a custom dashboard, food analysis and insights, meals and recipes, all with an ad-free experience. The premium app also includes workout routines, and members can save their favorite routines. Under Armour acquired MyFitnessPal in 2015 for $475 million and sold the app to global investment firm Francisco Partners for $345 million in late 2020. Learn more about the premium subscription app at MyFitnessPal.com.
Everyone is talking about Peloton, and not just because they bought Precor, a large global fitness equipment manufacturer and distributor, for $420 million last month. Based in New York, Peloton has a fitness community of more than 3.6 million members. They sell bikes, treadmills, apparel, accessories and an app that gives fitness subscribers access to a variety of workouts including strength, yoga, running, stretching, cycling, bootcamp, and more. A digital membership is available for $12.99 a month. Peloton equipment is pricy, but it offers monthly payment options, and Peloton equipment is not required for users to subscribe to the digital membership. Read more about the Peloton fitness membership at OnePeloton.com.
Formerly Weight Watchers, WW kicked off the new year with a new health and wellness app that includes digital experiences and coaching, in addition to the regular features of myWW+. The new app is called Digital 360 (D360) and is designed specifically for digital users who are always on the go and who want extra support and motivation to support a healthy lifestyle. The D360 subscription program offers WW coaches who are experts in fitness, mindfulness and applied clinical psychology. The myWW+ app alone starts at $3.22 per week, while D360 starts at $4.61 per week and includes myWW+. WW also offers other programs ranging in price from $6.92 per week to $13.85 per week. Visit WeightWatchers.com for details and promotional offers.
[Editor’s note: This is a round up of some of the many subscription health and fitness apps available. They are not recommendations, nor does Subscription Insider earn any commission or revenue from these apps.]