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

Five on Friday: Direct-to-Consumer, Coffee and Crypto

Featuring Stitch Fix, Caribou Coffee, AMC Theatres and LinkedIn

Direct-to-consumer business models, coffee subscriptions and cryptocurrency are in the subscription headlines this week. YouTube TV and NBCUniversal are working on a temporary deal, and Stitch Fix shifts focus away from subscriptions and toward direct-to-consumer purchases. Also, Caribou Coffee is launching a new national subscription program, AMC Theatres is accepting more types of cryptocurrency, and LinkedIn shares some top subscription jobs.

NBCUniversal and YouTube TV Work Out Temporary Deal

YouTube TV and NBCUniversal have been bringing old-school broadcast disputes to the web and ruffling some feathers in the process. While Peacock is hoping to find its footing in an already-dominated streaming market, NBCUniversal is trying to pull their channels from YouTube TV. They are working to find a deal where YouTube doesn’t lose channels, and potentially lose part of their market.

There are currently 14 NBCU channels on YouTube TV, including NBC, Bravo, Oxygen, Syfy and more. The deal was initially set to end last week, with NBCU channels disappearing from those using YouTube TV, alleges Android Police. Should the channels leave YouTube TV, they are planning to reduce their monthly pricing to $55 a month until those channels were restored, a $10 price reduction, YouTube said in a blog post.

The debacle between YouTube parent Alphabet/Google and NBCUniversal stems from NBC trying to force Google to bundle YouTube TV with Peacock, Android Police says. This was going to become a condition for YouTube TV to be able to keep NBC’s channels. This seems to stem from Peacock’s struggle to tread water in a saturated streaming market. In 2020, they lost almost a billion dollars to try to keep the streaming service afloat. This seems like it would only really help Peacock, who would be able to call YouTube TV’s subscribers among its own.

The details around the extension are vague. NBCU launched a campaign to urge its viewers to pressure YouTube TV keep their deal, at a website called You Need Channels, which is no longer active. NBCU alleges that Google is not giving them fair rates.

Google alleges that NBCU has not been willing to offer contractual protections to ensure that YouTube doesn’t pay more than other services at the same size to gain access to NBC’s channels, per Hollywood Reporter. There is currently no news as to when this extension will end, or when or if a longer-term agreement will be made.

Image: Bigstock Photos

Stitch Fix Takes Expands Beyond Subscriptions

Stitch Fix hopes to expand their market by trying to appeal to more consumers. They are currently pivoting to sell more clothes directly to customers and offer a non-subscription option. The company has now opened their direct-to-consumer option to the public.

Image courtesy of Stitch Fix

Stitch Fix started when its founder, Katrina Lake, felt like shopping was broken, and created a way for consumers to get curated outfits shipped to them. The company was founded in 2011, when Lake received her first round of seed money ($750,000) and sent out the first Fixes two months later. Six and a half years later, they announced their public offering, in their own timeline.

The direct-buy option is called Freestyle, and Stitch Fix is planning to offer new features, more brands and personalized stores. It is unclear whether non-subscribers will be able to access stylists the way existing customers can with their Fixes, but the personalization option will help appeal to more consumers. From the time Freestyle has been out, it has increased spending with existing customers.

“Stitch Fix Freestyle is an incredibly effective way to shop, offering today’s consumer efficiency and convenience, giving them the opportunity to browse a personalized and instantly shoppable shopping feed with many ways to engage for inspiration and discovery, and eliminating the need to endlessly scroll and filter for relevant items. Shoppers who want a specific item can also buy pieces curated just for them, from a variety of easily accessible categories and departments, brands and seasonal trending shops,” said in their announcement.

In an interview with CNBC, Chief Executive Elizabeth Spaulding said it would take time for consumers to know the public direct-buy option was there, but they remain hopeful that it will help diversify their revenue. They would have to invest heavily in advertising in order to help increase awareness.

Stitch Fix is the leader in personal styling, but it still has a small market, says Motley Fool. Freestyle would allow them to increase their addressable market, and this could, in turn, bring in more subscribers. The option for direct-buy also allows for customer engagement to increase. Thirty percent of existing customers have already shopped on Freestyle, bringing more revenue in from existing subscribers. Freestyle is available now, and there is no styling fee attached due to the direct-buy nature.

Caribou Coffee Launches Coffee Subscription Program

Caribou Coffee is jumping on the coffee subscription train, joining the likes of Oakland Coffee Club and Trade Coffee. Many of us agree that coffee is something we can’t live without, and Caribou is making sure you don’t have to!  The brand announced their coffee subscription offering on National Coffee Day, and gave a free bag of coffee to the first 100 subscribers.

Caribou’s offerings include K-Cup Pods, teas, bags of coffee, as well as their ready-to-drink offerings. Consumers can select the size of their bag, as little as two ounces, grind coffee to their specifications (or leave the bean whole) and select frequency of delivery. Their delivery options are weekly, bi-weekly, and monthly.

This isn’t their first foray into subscription ventures, as they’ve done Caribou Coffee Club before, which one consumer labeled as more of an auto delivery service versus a true coffee club. Members were able to get samplers to try different coffees without the commitment of buying a full bag of beans. Members of the new Caribou Coffee subscription will be able to easily manage their subscriptions, as well as access exclusive offers and deals through the Caribou Perks program.

Caribou’s addition to their business helps fans of the Midwest coffee chain enjoy coffee from all 50 states, at an affordable price, says QSR Magazine. Even with the addition of a subscription option, Caribou is still committed to sustainability in coffee. All of their coffee is 100% Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee and espresso. The company is committed to product innovation and the customer experience, making a subscription option the perfect fit for them.

Image courtesy of Caribou Coffee

AMC Theatres to Expand Its Acceptance of Cryptocurrency

Crypto’s going to the movies! Earlier this year, AMC Theatres announced it would start accepting Bitcoin as payment at their theaters. They then followed up with another announcement saying they would also accept Ethereum, Litecoin and Bitcoin Cash when crypto payments are available. Adam Aron, AMC’s CEO, didn’t have a narrower timeframe other than the end of this year, says Engadget. The company will be accepting cryptocurrency as both ticket and concession payments.

The theater chain came to this conclusion after the meme stock frenzy earlier this year. Their stocks started at around $2 per share earlier this year, and have been as high as $72 per share, says Fortune. Aron is hoping that tech fans who love crypto will, in turn, invest further into their stock, and actually go see movies in theaters.

Courtesy of Twitter

This decision is not without its critics. One side complains that AMC Theatres is not accepting all forms of crypto, and that popular crypto Dogecoin was not being accepted. There was such an uproar, in fact, that Aron put it to Twitter to decide via a poll. Seventy percent of voters confirmed that they would like AMC Theatres to accept Dogecoin.

The other side is upset that crypto has less government control, and that it’s confusing and mysterious. Those who don’t participate in crypto have shied away from buying into it because of the confusing manner of how it works, and their fear of fraud and manipulation.

A third side is saying that crypto is too volatile, and they might find the shift to movie tickets too expensive. Bitcoin’s price often fluctuates, and most cryptocurrencies have skyrocketed so high it’s almost impossible to have a full token to yourself. The risk may not be worth the price of popcorn.

LinkedIn: Top Subscription Jobs

Senior Manager, Social Media
Peloton Interactive
New York, NY

The Senior Manager, Social & Editorial, will lead Peloton’s social media campaigns across all earned social media, including Facebook (brand page, instructor pages, showroom pages), Instagram, Spotify, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, as well as lead content strategy and editorial production for The Output, Peloton’s editorial site. The role requires a creative leader that has run a world-class social media team and who can build and deliver a winning social & editorial strategy. Read more.

Director, Paid Marketing
Jefferson City, MO

We’re looking for a Director, Paid Marketing, to build and scale our global paid marketing program across digital and offline channels. This is a high-impact role that will be responsible for building out a program and team to help Scribd accomplish its mission of changing the way the world reads. You are a paid marketing leader who is strategic and resourceful and excels in a fast-paced environment. You have experience managing global budgets and scaling online and offline paid media. You are an exceptional people manager who nurtures and leads nimble teams that are motivated by making an impact. Read more.

Application Manager, Revenue Accounting and Subscription Billing
Austin, TX

Facebook’s Enterprise Product team is responsible for building integrated, scalable, and robust enterprise applications. We are currently looking for an experienced, insightful, forward-thinking Application Manager with a strong ability to design and execute products and solutions that power the enterprise. As a valued member of this team, you will be working with Finance teams to provide Oracle ERP Cloud based or custom-built solutions to improve operational efficiency, consistency, and compliance in support of business objectives. Read more.

Senior Analyst, Data & Insights (Subscriber/Subscription Reporting)
The New York Times
New York, NY

Seeking analytical/engineering talent to turn passion for data and support of world-class journalism into tools and insights. The senior analyst collaborates with the internal tech and product teams to deliver tools and analyses that fuel subscription growth for the New York Times. This position requires a strategic and tactical viewpoint and strong problem solving skills. Read more.

Director of Strategy
New York, NY

We’re looking for a superstar Strategist to be the connective tissue between our creative and marketing leadership in a team-oriented environment with the aim of refining our core value props, growing sales, raising awareness, and managing the strategic marketing across our suite of brands; Barkbox, Super Chewer, Bark Eats, and Bark Bright. They work to expand our understanding of our customers, growth areas, and insights. They are responsible for developing and articulating brand(s) mission, values, and creating strategic briefs for the creative team(s). Read more.

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