illustration of the number five, representing the five subscription business topics for this column, Five-on-Friday

Five on Friday: Vino, Ventures and Video Podcasts

Featuring Spotify, BOXT, Amazon and Donald Trump

In this week’s edition of Five on Friday, data shows that the majority of U.S. households will cut the cord by 2025, and streaming subscription service Spotify opens access to video podcast publishing. Also, BOXT wine raises $9.35 million in equity and debt funding, former president Donald Trump announces his own social and streaming video on demand platforms, and Amazon competes with retailers by offering in-store pick-up.

Majority US Households Will Cut Cord by 2025

With the rise of subscription services like Netflix, Hulu and HBO Max, many households broken up with their cable companies. Where streaming services typically range from $5 to $15 a month, cable bills can be $100 to $200 a month, making streaming services more affordable. Of course, households need a good internet connection to access streaming services which adds to the cost.

Currently, 25% of homes are signed up for internet services without pay-tv, with that percentage expected to rise, Cord Cutters News reports. In 2010, only 8% had internet without pay-tv. In 2020, 38 million households were broadband only without pay-tv. In 2025, that number will grow to 54 million households.

It seems like just about everyone has a streaming service these days and with that comes options. For example, the Discovery Plus subscription streaming service launched in January, bringing viewers shows from the Discovery Channel, TLC and the Travel Channel. Popular cable channels have been able to adapt their content and move to the streaming market, growing their audiences from there. Quarantine created a demand for content in the food and true crime sectors, and Discovery was able to deliver.

Creating a streaming viewing menu has never been so easy. Whether they are interested in broad-based services like Netflix, Prime Video or HBO Max, or niche services, viewers can pick which streaming services fit them the best. Those interested in the news sphere can access local news networks more easily now. Recently, Amazon Fire TV made their local news coverage more widely available. According to TechCrunch, 158 different markets are able to access local news channels from their Amazon Fire Stick or TV. Fire TV will automatically detect your local news station when you open the app, and you’re able to customize your news coverage from there.

Image: Bigstock Photos

Spotify Opens Access to Video Podcast Publishing

YouTube has allowed podcasters to upload video versions of their podcasts for quite some time. Popular YouTubers like Logan Paul, Ethan Klein and others have used the site to display a video format to go along with their audio. With closed captioning options, this has helped make podcasting more accessible to those that are deaf or hard of hearing.

Spotify, on an ever-growing quest to be the top dog in podcasting, is trying to go beat for beat with YouTube. The acquisition of Anchor in 2019 has given Spotify some indispensable tools. Now Anchor is allowing Spotify to be able to compete with video podcasts. The company announced that they would open access to creators that would allow them to begin publishing video podcasts to their service.

According to TechCrunch, creators will be able to upload videos through their accounts in a similar fashion to how they would upload the audio format. After publication, fans will be able to listen to podcasts across various devices. Spotify currently is capable of operating on its mobile app, desktop app, web player, Smart TVs and game consoles. Video will be able to be displayed on all of these.

The best part for creators? They will still be able to incorporate their existing advertising partnerships, so they are not losing out on revenue. Automated Ads will also be supported soon. Automated Ads are a way for podcasters to create flexible options for advertising, and they can make advertising more accessible to different creators. Automated ads could also minimize the risk of compromising the listener experience, by using ads that are relevant to each listener.

With Spotify participating in podcast subscriptions, video will also be included. Creators could potentially create exclusive video content or be able to lock the video version of their podcast behind a subscription, much like a paywall.

Spotify is rolling out access to video podcasts to creators on Anchor, gradually. Interested creators will have to sign up for a waitlist in order to gain access. Their current lineup of video podcasts will include The Joe Rogan Experience, The Ringer’s Higher Learning, as well as podcasts from creators like Philip DeFranco, Jasmine Chiswell, and more.

Image courtesy of Spotify

BOXT Raises $9.35M to Expand Luxury Brand of Fine Wines

When you think of boxed wine, what comes to mind – boxed wine in bulk from the grocery store? BOXT hopes to change all that. The wine start-up is offering the Napa experience from a box which stays fresh for six weeks. BOXT started in Austin and is female-founded and led. The company was born from a desire to deliver a luxury wine experience directly to customers’ doors.

“We’re inspired by the simplicity and deliciousness of European house wines and we know that they should be easy to order and easy to love, glass after glass,” says BOXT on their website.

In an October 20 press release, the company announced that they had raised $9.35 million in equity and debt funding to drive the expansion of its brand and wine offerings. This funding round was led by Next Coast Ventures, and joined by privately owned WX Brands, venture debt Silicon Valley Bank, as well as multiple private individual private investors.

“Our goal is to be everyone’s go-to glass of house wine,” said Sarah Puil, Founder of BOXT. “We’re excited to use this investment to expand our marketing to grow membership and brand awareness, fund technology development for reducing our carbon footprint and continue to research the best ways to provide a sustainable, luxury wine experience for our members.”

Image courtesy of BOXT

BOXT is a first-of-its-kind subscription service. Traditional wine subscription services, like Bright Cellars and Naked Wines, offer wine quizzes to help find wines that you may like. Bottles of wine often don’t stay as fresh unless properly cared for and at the right temperature. BOXT creates their wines to taste, and they are easy to choose. They offer nine profiles, and you’re able to pick easily.

BOXT offers a few different options for their boxed wine. Consumers are able to purchase a la carte for $89 per box, or they can subscribe and save. For BOXT subscriptions, there is no membership fee, and shipping is included in the price. Members also save 20% on a BOXT, with the opportunity for more savings when purchasing more boxes.

Those who subscribe to BOXT will pay $74 per BOXT, with one taste profile per month, and $70 if they buy two or more boxes per month with two taste profiles. BOXT also offers a personal wine concierge for questions, comments, or profile changes, to make the user experience friendly for all. Currently, BOXT is not available in every state, but they are adding new states every week.

Trump to Venture into SVOD

Just like Michael Meyers, Donald Trump is someone that refuses to go down without a fight. Earlier this week, the former president announced his plan to launch his own social media network, Truth Social, but now he has another trick up his sleeve: a subscription video on demand service.

Sick of fake news, the twice-impeached president who has been kicked off all major internet platforms, decided he wanted to create his own social media. In an October 20 press release, the Trump Media & Technology Group was unveiled. Its mission? “Creating a rival to the liberal media consortium and fight back against the ‘Big Tech’ companies of Silicon Valley, which have used their unilateral power to silence opposing voices in America,” Variety reports. Given that Trump decided to sue Facebook, Twitter and Google over censorship over the summer, it will be interesting to see what kinds of content will be allowed. However, private companies are by law, allowed to remove harmful content from their platforms.

“I created Truth Social and TMTG [Trump Media & Technology Group] to stand up to the tyranny of Big Tech,” said Trump, in the release. “I am excited to send out my first truth on Truth Social very soon. TMTG was founded with a mission to give a voice to all.”

Truth Social screenshot from App Store

The Truth Social app will start in beta form on an invitation-only basis in November, and they are expecting a public rollout in the first quarter of 2022. It is currently available for pre-order at the Apple App Store. Former President Trump expressed his excitement to share his first truth on the platform soon. Given that Trump allegedly made a total of more than 30,000 false or misleading claims during his presidency, according to the Washington Post, truth is relative. Two days after the press release about Truth Social, it was found that a test version of Truth Social had violated open-source software licensing terms, says Variety.

The Trump Media & Technology group also has plans to becoming a publicly traded entity through a merger with Digital World Acquisition Corp. Digital World has raised $293 million in cash from its initial stock market public offering in late September, Media Post reports. Digital World’s stock went up 87% the day after this announcement.

Trump’s subscription service is slated to be named TMTG Plus. No pricing details or a launch date were announced. TMTG Plus will include news, podcasts, and more in an envelope of “non-woke” media.

Amazon to Offer In-Store Pickup for Local Businesses

In a world where retailers are competing with Amazon, the tables have turned in. Amazon is rolling out Local Selling, a service where third-party sellers can offer in-store pickup to shoppers who live near the physical store.

Small and medium-sized businesses have seen a large boost from Amazon this last year, especially during Prime Day. During the shopping event, shoppers spent almost $2 billion on more than 70 million small business products. Local Selling is another tool sellers can use to help give their businesses a boost. With Local Pickup, shoppers will be able to select in-store pickup when placing their order, and are able to get their package the same day, CNBC reports. In-store pickup will not cost extra. Products that have an option for in-store pickup with have a “store pickup” tab on the item page, and shoppers will have a five-day pickup window to collect their orders, says TechCrunch.

With Local Selling comes local delivery, where sellers can use their own trucks and vans to transport items to doorsteps. Sellers will also have the option to bundle other services on top of delivery, like product assembly or installation. Most merchants will be able to ensure to ensure one to two-day local delivery at no extra cost. When someone selects local delivery, the retailer will contact the shopper to help pinpoint an exact date and time for delivery.

This gives the Prime standard to third-party businesses that may not have been able to his that standard beforehand and gives Amazon an edge to help compete with big box stores that have had in-store pickup for a while. In-store pickup grew 107% over the last year, largely in part due to the pandemic. Walmart, Target and Best Buy have all been able to have a piece of the pie, but now Amazon has a seat at the table, which will help during the holiday season.

Amazon has previously tested an in-store pickup option, Counter. Shoppers were able to get items delivered to their closest Rite Aid to pick up, and they were able to expand further. Amazon lockers are also available for items directly from Amazon.

Image: Bigstock Photos

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