Five on Friday: Peacock, Paid Memberships and Podcast Ad Revenue Predictions

Featuring Cosmopolitan, 2Checkout, Walmart and Peacock

Happy Friday, everyone! We hope you are enjoying your summer while staying safe and healthy. In this week’s edition of Five on Friday, Cosmopolitan magazine has launched a paid membership program with a metered paywall, NBCUniversal’s Peacock officially launches, and 2Checkout rolls out a new release of its Avangate monetization platform to support its clients. Also this week, Walmart has been hit with a class-action lawsuit for an alleged data breach, and IAB releases a new report predicting that podcast advertising revenue could hit $1 billion in 2020.

Cosmopolitan Introduces Paid Membership Program

Using a metered paywall, Cosmopolitan.com has started its own paid membership program. When readers visit the website to access content, they will hit a paywall after four articles. Paid members get access to exclusive content. Non-subscribers will see a blurred-out story after they have read four articles, and a banner advertising the membership pops up. The banner promises subscribers will get access to all their favorite content, including a subscription to the magazine, a members-only newsletter, and other mystery perks.

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There are two options for the membership plan – monthly and yearly. An annual membership is dubbed Editor’s Choice and costs $20 per year, a savings of $4 over paying monthly. For a yearly subscription, consumers will gain access to all the website’s content, exclusive bonus content, a members-only newsletter, a print copy of the magazine, early access to events, and more. Digital-only access is $2 a month, and consumers would only have access to the first three perks.

Should neither option work for a consumer, there are other options. Readers are able to upgrade their existing magazine subscription to get access to digital content. They are required to verify their existing subscription, and then make a payment to upgrade. Should they only want a print copy of the magazine, they can still subscribe to just the Cosmo magazine for $12.

The annual option is currently only available for residents of the U.S. and Canada. Those who live outside of the U.S. or Canada, but have a U.S.-currency based credit card can subscribe to the monthly digital-only option.

More magazines are moving to metered paywalls, particularly with advertising revenue down due to the pandemic. This new strategy could turn readers and lurkers into paid members for Cosmo.

Cosmopolitan implements a metered paywall.
Cosmopolitan implements a metered paywall. Image courtesy of Cosmo.

Peacock Is Officially Strutting Its Stuff

Peacock, NBCUniversal’s newest addition to the streaming video service game, officially launched nationwide yesterday. Xfinity customers with either X1 or Flex have had early access to the platform for the last three months.

Peacock utilizes a freemium model with three tiers: free, premium with ads, and premium without ads. The free tier will have limited access – meaning 7,500 hours of TV shows and movies. Shows that are currently airing will be added to the free tier a day after they’re added to the premium tiers. Since it is free, it will be ad-supported. TechCrunch reports that NBCUniversal will still benefit from the free tier, because they can control the consumer experience and sell their own ads.

The paid tiers promise double the amount of content, which offers access to Peacock’s entire catalog. Cord Cutter News reports that those with premium subscriptions will have early access to late night shows. A Peacock Premium subscription with ads will cost $5 a month, or $49.99 a year, and a premium subscription without ads will cost $10 a month, or $99.99 per year, after a 7-day free trial. Peacock Premium includes Peacock Originals, dramas, live sports, current hits like Chicago Fire and Superstore and megahit movies.

Peacock’s library will include current episodes of NBC series, episodes from past series, films, kid’s content, news, Peacock originals and more. They have a long list of original content available at launch. The free tier will have sample episodes of original content but if a viewer wants to see the whole thing, they must upgrade.

The service will be available on a variety of devices, but currently there doesn’t seem to be a plan to bring it to devices like Roku or Amazon Fire TV. If this sounds familiar, HBO Max has done the same thing. Time will tell if omitting these distribution channels from their marketing and promo strategy will hurt Peacock.

Peacock officially launched yesterday.
Peacock officially launched yesterday. Image courtesy of NBCUniversal.

2Checkout Releases New Features & Enhancements to Its Monetization Platform

Earlier this week, 2Checkout released an updated version of its Avangate Monetization Platform to help subscription companies adapt to a rapidly-changing economy. The new release includes advanced out-of-the-box promotions and pricing capabilities, localized cart abandonment engine and churn prevention tools, embedded ordering options for brand-centric experiences, and deeper localization options related to payments, tax, and compliance.

Specifically, subscription companies can better engage their audiences with brand-centric experiences, attract and retain subscribers with an enhanced subscription toolkit, and ensure that they are complying with the latest global regulations.

“Through 2Checkout’s all-in-one monetization platform, we are focused on helping clients simplify the complexities of digital commerce and – especially today – to adapt faster to new market conditions,” said Adriana Iordan, VP of Product Management at 2Checkout. “The 2020 summer release brings together not only additional capabilities needed for modern commerce, particularly payment localization and subscription billing, but also responds to clients’ needs to be nimbler. Merchants using our platform are able to quickly enter new markets and achieve the fastest path to revenue, with flexible offerings and optimized brand-centric experiences – without requiring engineering resources.” 

California Resident Files Class Action Suit Against Walmart for Data Breach

California’s Consumer Privacy Act, the state’s new privacy law which went into effect in January, allows individuals to sue companies for data breaches. A San Francisco resident, Lavarious Gardiner who claims that hackers stole his personal data from Walmart, is among the first to file suit for the alleged data breach and for violating a consumer protection law, reports Media Post. According to the class action complaint filed July 10, Walmart did not implement or maintain “reasonable security procedures and practices.”

A Walmart customer is suing the company for a data breach.
A San Francisco resident is filing a class action lawsuit against Walmart for an alleged data breach that violated the California Consumer Privacy Act.

Top Class Actions reports that Gardiner used his personal identification information to open a Walmart account on the company’s website. Hackers were able to access that information and posted it for sale on the dark web. Gardiner alleges that this negligence exposed him and other Walmart customers to “a range of possible negative effects” which might include identity theft, receipt of spam, being a victim of phishing scams or malware. More than 2 million accounts were available for sale as a result of this data breach.

Walmart disputes the claims.

Podcast Ad Revenue Could Reach $1 Billion in 2020

In 2020, the podcast ad revenue market is expected to be close to $1 billion, according to a new U.S. podcast ad revenue study released by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) earlier this week. This represents growth of 14.7% year-over-year. While podcasting ad revenue was down a bit during the first two quarters due to the COVID-19 pandemic, IAB believes that podcasting will rebound faster than other forms of media.

In its report, IAB shared the following highlights from 2019:

  • Revenue increased 48% compared to 2018 to $708.1 million.
  • Health & Wellness and Home & Appliance are the biggest direct-to-consumer subcategories.
  • Host-read ads contributed 66% of podcast ad revenue for the year.
  • News was the leading podcast genre for U.S. podcast advertisers, representing 22% of revenue.
IAB U.S. Podcast Advertising Revenue Study, July 2020
IAB U.S. Podcast Advertising Revenue Study, July 2020

Looking at 2020, IAB reported the following:

  • Prior to COVID-19, total growth was estimated to be 29.6%. That estimated has been downgraded to 14.7%.
  • The top two reasons for the decreased revenue projects were cancelled campaigns that were booked but not live (31%) and paused campaigns that were currently live (25%).
  • Changes in messaging for mission-based marketing and cause-related marketing increased 75%.

For more details and projects, download the IAB report from IAB.com.

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