Five on Friday: Working Out, Warnings and (Pay)walls

Featuring Lululemon, Amazon, TikTok and Apple

In this week’s edition of Five on Friday, Lululemon is expanding their fitness subscription with an app-only subscription, Amazon is considering an ad-supported tier of Prime Video, and TikTok is rolling out their paywalled Series to more content creators and regions. To round things out, Apple has added additional security features for their users, and gaming subscriptions may be at a standstill.

Lululemon expands digital workouts

Lululemon launched their Studio subscription program last September. When Studio launched, subscribers were required to own the fitness device Mirror, and they were offered exclusive content. However, the fitness company has shifted to more app-based content, Retail Dive shared. In the pivot, Lululemon has learned how to tap into hybrid fitness and their hybrid fitness subscribers. Through the new app, subscribers get unlimited access to more than 10,000 workouts, programs and features.

The company is launching a new app subscription that doesn’t require a Mirror and is more accessible to more consumers. With the boutique fitness brand expansion, they are renewing their partnership with Xponential Fitness to offer even more to their subscribers.

“Take your workouts anywhere you go,” says Lululemon on the Studio website. “Whether on vacation, at home, or at the gym, our App helps you stay on top of your fitness goals. Sweat to your own music collection, monitor your heart rate, cast to your Smart TV, and more. Now you can access your routine, Mirror-free.”

With the renewed partnership, Xponential will increase the number of workouts offered and offer streaming workouts. Subscribers to the platform will also be able to get discounts on classes through those brands across the country, Lululemon shared in a press release.

“We’re thrilled to extend our partnership with Xponential Fitness and bring an expanded selection of their world class workouts to lululemon Studio. Our guests are looking for hybrid fitness options, and this expansion of our partnership will enable them to continue to access workouts from Pure Barre, Rumble, AKT and YogaSix both digitally and through in-person fitness experiences,” Celeste Burgoyne of Lululemon shared of the collaboration.

For subscribers interested in the app-only subscription, the new tier will cost $12.99 per month or $129.99 a year, according to the Studio website. An all-access membership, which does require a Mirror, is $39 per month and requires a 12-month commitment. The new app subscription does not require a commitment, and interested users can participate in a month-long free trial.

Lululemon expands its offering to include an app-subscription available on smartphones and smartwatches as shown here.
Source: Lululemon

Amazon is reportedly planning ad-supported tier for Prime Video

Keeping up with competitors like Netflix and Disney, Amazon is allegedly working on an ad-supported tier for their streaming service, Prime Video. This would differ from their current ad-supported service, FreeVee, which is free to the user.

Discussions have been taking place over the last several weeks, as reported by The Wall Street Journal. The talks come after several cost-cutting measures following layoffs of 27,000 employees. Ad revenue could be a way to help bring back some of the lost revenue. In advertising alone, Amazon’s revenue was $9.5 billion during the first quarter, an 20% increase year-over-year. That figure puts them third in ad revenue, behind only Meta and Google.

Amazon has made large strides in beefing up their advertising business. Last year, the company debuted their virtual product placement tool, which allows advertisers to put their products directly into streaming content, TechCrunch reported in 2022. The tool works by allowing advertisers to place products into a show or movie post-production through billboards, signs or screens.

Currently, Prime Video acts as a streaming subscription and a hub to add on other subscriptions. Subscribers can add on HBO, Showtime, Starz, and other channels for another monthly fee. That content then gets integrated into the platform for regular viewing. Another avenue that Amazon is looking to pursue is offering ad-supported versions of Max and Paramount Plus within its video channels, The Verge shared.

Not much is known about the looming ad-supported tier, other than that the ads will be “short.” However, that leaves much up to interpretation. How many minutes of ads per hour does “short” constitute? Amazon did not give many answers, as they declined to comment on the manner. Prime Video costs subscribers $8.99 per month as a standalone service, and is included with an Amazon Prime membership which costs $139.99 for a wide range of Prime benefits.

Amazon Prime Video sign on  smartphone screen, next to white headphones on a laptop keyboard.
Source: Bigstock Photo

TikTok rolls out Series paywalls to creators

TikTok announced a new change for creators in March, which would allow them to create Series and put them behind a paywall. With Series, eligible creators can put Collections of premium content behind a paywall, including up to 80 videos that can each be up to 20 minutes long. TikTok debuted the feature in their Newsroom in March, but have now updated the feature to allow for expansion into 94 countries.

When TikTok initially considered a paywall, the monthly user figure dropped by 3.5%. At the time, they were considering a few different ideas like shopping integration, connecting users with friends and paywalls. Both shopping integration and connecting users with friends have come to fruition on the app, suggesting a successful turnaround.

Creators can select how much their content will cost, and can set the price between $1 and $190, The Verge reported. There is not much known about the revenue split, but TikTok users have historically not been fans of their return on investment from TikTok.

Those with many thousands of followers now have access to more types of monetization than they previously had, TubeFilter shared. The new Series feature also helps to lengthen videos and could possibly prevent people jumping ship to post longform content to YouTube, which also has a creator subscription option.

In order to be eligible, creators must be 18 years or older, have an account at least one month old with at least 10,000 followers, more than three public videos, and at least 1,000 authentic video views from the last 30 days. If a creator does not have more than 10,000 followers, they can apply by submitting a link to premium content they have sold on other platforms, TikTok shared. They must also have a history of respecting TikTok’s community guidelines.

TikTok Series hero on black background, symbolizing creator monetization opportunities
Source: TikTok

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Apple announces new privacy and security features

Apple recently hosted their Worldwide Developers Conference, giving the world an inside look into their latest updates. Apple revealed some privacy and security features aimed to help protect user data.

“Privacy is designed into every new Apple product and feature from the beginning. We are focused on keeping our users in the driver’s seat when it comes to their data by continuing to provide industry-leading privacy features and best data security in the world. This approach is evident in a number of features on our platforms, like the major updates to Safari Private Browsing, as well as the expansion of Lockdown Mode,” Craig Federighi of Apple shared.

When it comes to Safari Private Browsing, Apple has built in more protection against those who may be trying to access sensitive user data. A major feature that Apple is working on is Lockdown Mode. The feature debuted in iOS 16 but will be adapted more for future use on multiple devices. The feature was designed to protect specific users from malware attacks, Apple Insider shared. The update will prevent devices from connecting to 2G cellular networks and automatically joining networks that could be insecure.

Another key feature getting more facetime is the iMessage Contact Key Verification security feature, MacRumors reported. This feature first came out in December of 2022, but is getting revamped for new use. The update provides users with automatic alerts if someone breached Apple’s cloud servers and inserted their own device to eavesdrop on Apple’s end-to-end encrypted conversations.

Other updates include Sensitive Content warnings that will help users avoid seeing unsolicited nude photos when receiving them over Messages, AirDrop, FaceTime, and more. This feature is optional and can be turned on or off. Also, Communication Safety is being added to warn children when receiving or sending messages that contain nudity. Image and video processing for both Sensitive Content and Communication Safety is done on a device, so Apple or third parties will not gain access to the content, as reported by Apple.

Apple logo with lock on top on black screen
Source: Apple

Gaming subscription growth stalls

In a new report from Metro Games Central, PlayStation Plus and Xbox Game Pass didn’t grow much in the last few months. Could they be facing the same fate as streaming video subscriptions? It’s been a great year for gaming, so why is there a standstill?

Xbox has missed its internal targets for years, falling short of their 2021 and 2022 targets, says Metro. With the Microsoft-Activision Blizzard acquisition on ice for almost a year and a half, there isn’t be much for Xbox gamers to get excited about. In November 2022, Sony made a claim that Xbox had 29 million subscribers to Game Pass, and that number was expected to “grow substantially.” That number was closer to 25 million according to Sony’s calculations, IGN shared.

In PlayStation’s book, they had twice the subscribers Game Pass did last year. The service saw a new draw of subscribers when they revamped their subscription, PlayStation Plus, into a tiered subscription, allowing more types of gamers to try out the service. Sony has reportedly consistently hit a ceiling when it comes to PlayStation Plus, usually hovering around 50 million members. However, to balance out, they have raised their average revenue per user, according to Push Square.

Growth in gaming subscriptions shows they have only grown 2% since this time last year, IGN said. The services may have hit a slow point, and it is unclear if they will be able to spark more subscriber growth anytime soon. For contrast, spending on premium release games has been going well, citing the new Legend of Zelda and Jedi: Survivor being two of the standout titles.

However, looking at larger data overall, the gaming industry seems to have dropped altogether. Consumer spending on video game content, hardware and accessories dropped 5% compared to last year, as reported by Mat Piscatella of Circana. Even with a 7% growth in hardware, there was still a 6% decline in video game content spending. This is a contrast from last year, where subscription services were poised to boost console and PC gaming. At the time, subscription gaming was on the rise, but it could have hit the ceiling for now.

Young boy playing video games at home with computer and headphone
Source: Envato Elements

Copyright © 2023 Authority Media Network, LLC. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is prohibited.

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