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

Five on Friday: Teslas, Tacos and Targeting

Featuring Amazon, Sunday Night Football, Taco Bell and The New York Times

As we head into fall, the leaves and the weather aren’t the only things changing. Tesla has decided to discontinue its solar subscription service, two years in; Amazon is considering buying the rights to stream Sunday Night Football; and Taco Bell is testing a subscription service for taco lovers. Also this week, Quora launches a premium subscription, and The New York Times targets kids with a new app.

Tesla Cancels Its Solar Subscription Service, Two Years In

Tesla is shuttering its solar subscription service, just two years after its debut. The company initially launched the subscription service as an affordable way to go solar, where homeowners could power their homes with the sun for less than traditional methods. There was no installation cost and no contract. Instead, customers paid a monthly subscription fee to access solar power generated by Tesla’s systems to reduce their monthly energy bill, as well as their carbon footprint.

Tesla isn’t completely getting rid of their solar energy options, however. Only the subscription option is going away, leaving cash and loan options available, according to Electrek. This seems like a stark contrast to the debut of the company’s solar subscription service, when Tesla was offering incentives to get people to use the service.

Eliminating the subscription option could be a barrier to entry and reduce participation in Tesla’s solar program. The subscription helped to eliminate a daunting price which is a barrier to entry. The subscription also made the solar program more affordable for those that might have been hesitant to buy or commit to a long-term contract. Over the two years the subscription service was active, Tesla continued to expand the service with different kilowatt ratings, making things even more affordable. Small installations started at $50 a month, where larger installations started at $150 a month.

The reason for Tesla discontinuing their service is unknown. Solar deployments have been on the rise for the energy company. According to Teslarati, solar deployments more than tripled in just a year. However, this doesn’t just represent subscription solar users; it includes cash and loan buyers as well. It could be that Tesla is losing money on letting consumers subscribe to the solar option, since it was considered a more affordable option.

Tesla shutters its solar subscription service two years after debut.
Image courtesy of Pixabay

Amazon Eyes Sunday Night Football as DirecTV Contract Ends

After scoring a deal for Thursday Night Football earlier this year, Amazon is looking to acquire the rights to stream Sunday Night Football. Amazon, the eCommerce, technology and streaming giant, is currently the frontrunner to get rights to Sunday night sports. According to CNBC, Amazon is currently in talks to figure out a package.

In May, Amazon agreed to pay $1 billion a year to become the exclusive streamer of Thursday Night Football. Their Thursday Night deal includes one pre-season and 15 regular season games a year. Prime Video will also feature pre-game, half-time, as well as post-game shows, and other features to entertain viewers. This was the National Football League’s first-ever digital package, and both parties are eager to get their 10-year deal started.

Both the NFL and Amazon are looking at the Sunday Ticket for Sunday Night Football. Currently, the Sunday Ticket is owned by DirecTV, who has owned the exclusive rights for the last 27 years. The contract was last renewed in 2014 for eight years. The contract is slated to end after the 2022-23 season. With Amazon’s deal for Thursday Night Football starting in the 2023-24 season, the timing would work out perfectly if they can secure the Sunday Ticket.

NFL is expected to ask for $2 billion to $2.5 billion per year for this package, and is hoping they can wrap up discussions before the end of the current NFL season. Other competitors that have shown interest are Apple and Disney, according to Business Insider. However, Apple is not currently being seeing as a serious contender, having been cited as reluctant to invest heavily in entertainment. Peacock has also shown interest, but also has not been seen as a serious competitor.

Amazon is currently seen as the favorite to carry out this deal, and it seems like it could work in their favor because of their relationship with the NFL and licensing rights to stream Thursday Night Football.

Are you ready for some football? Amazon is as they eye the Sunday Night Football package. Image courtesy of Pixabay.

Quora Launches Quora+ Premium Subscription Service

More knowledge. More ideas. More Quora. That’s how Quora, the modern-day equivalent of Yahoo Answers, describes its service. The company is debuting Quora+, a premium subscription service to allow users to monetize their content, and a way for readers to help support their favorite creators.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Those that are eager to answer questions will be able to help supply them with an added monetary benefit. This allows people to access excellent writing, knowledge straight from the source, and exclusive content, while supporting people that matter to them. Subscribers will be able to enjoy Spaces content, which will help entertain, inform and inspire.

The creator function is currently invitation-only. Quora is hoping once they build momentum they will be able to extend invitations to more and more creators, and telling people to stay tuned. Those that are there to write for Quora will be able to earn money by answering questions and creating Spaces.

However, where some creator-based websites have subscribers pay the creator individually, subscribers will pay Quora directly. Quora will then distribute funds in proportion to the amount each subscriber consumes their content, according to Small Biz Trends. This means it’s possible for creators to earn a lot, but they would have to have a significant number of subscribers consume their content versus getting paid directly like Apple Podcasts or Patreon does. Those that participate more in answering questions will also be paid more, given that they are producing more content.

On average, Quora gets 3,000 to 5,000 questions daily and has over 300 million monthly users. Quora often pops up high in search engine rankings, giving the website plenty of visibility. Using the freemium model, Quora will continue to have content that is free for all as well as the subscription product. After a 30-day free trial for Quora Plus, the subscription will run users $5 a month, or $50 a year.

The New York Times Is Testing an App for Kids

The New York Times is targeting kids with a new app. The ad-free app will start with a select number of families with kids to sign up and participate in a closed testing of an iPad app version of their newspaper for kids, The New York Times for Kids. According to the media organization, the beta testing is called “How To,” and it will include several how tos to help kids figure out how to do different things, like baking a cookie pizza or inventing a different language.

The New York Times is seeking curious and opinionated kids that have access to an iPad and are willing to test things out. The age range is kids ages 8 to 12. There will be a three to four month test period, beginning in either November, December or January. Users will be given access to the app, and kids are asked to use the app as much or as little as they want. The Times wants their parents’ opinions too. Interested applicants can learn more here

More and more news organizations are looking to vary their audiences, and kids seem to be the most sought-after audience as of late. TIME Magazine announced the launch of their digital subscription for kids in October of last year. The more that is going on in the world, the more kids want to know about it. TIME’s subscription currently costs $20 a month and is geared toward elementary school kids. NBC Learn is another source for young news readers, but is aimed at those 13 and up, and all ages are able to use it. There is no subscription fee for this service.

Image courtesy of The New York Times

Taco Bell Tests Taco Subscription Service

Taco Bell is trying its hands at the subscription game. Taco lovers can treat themselves to a taco per day at participating Taco Bell locations while the fast-food chain tests out their subscription.

The new subscription service is called the Taco Lover’s Pass, and it’s currently being tested at 17 locations in Arizona. Between September 9 and November 24, customers can buy the Taco Lover’s Pass from the Taco Bell app, reveal the hidden menu, and be able to pick from seven different tacos, to make up a taco per day for 30 days. A Taco Lover’s pass will run a user $5 to $10 a month, depending on the location.

Image courtesy of Taco Bell

This comes a year after Taco Bell launched their rewards program, says Marketing Dive. The rewards program has given Taco Bell a 35% increase in overall spending from loyalty members that are active, according to its parent company, Yum Brands. This makes it a good time to segue into the subscription tier.

With crunchy and soft tacos being the QSR’s most popular items, a taco pass seems to make the most sense. Competitors like Del Taco and El Pollo Loco have also debuted loyalty programs, so Taco Bell debuting a subscription service is a move to keep them a step ahead.

Subscriptions have helped restaurants make gains in the past. Panera’s coffee subscription helped to increase visits by 70% during its test phase and is still continuing to grow from there. According to CNBC, Panera’s subscriber count is at almost half a million. Here’s hoping Taco Bell’s Taco Lover Pass outlives Burger King’s coffee subscription, which was continued within a year of it being launched.

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