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

Five on Friday: Backlash, Super App and Subscription Jobs

Featuring DISH, PayPal, Tumblr, Substack, Letter and LinkedIn

In this week’s edition of Five on Friday, DISH offers HBO Max, HBO and Cinemax to its customers, Substack acquires newsletter startup “Letter,” and PayPal announces that its new super app is coming soon. Also, LinkedIn shares top subscription jobs, and Tumblr faces major backlash and an online protest in reaction to its testing of Tumblr Post+, a new subscription service that allows creators to charge between $3.99 and $9.99 a month for paywalled content.

DISH Customers Can Now Get HBO Max + HBO and Cinemax

Through a new agreement with WarnerMedia, DISH Network is now offering customers access to the HBO Max streaming platform as well as HBO and Cinemax. As part of the launch, customers will get a free 10-day preview window to try HBO and Cinemax for a limited time.

“Our number one priority at DISH is and always has been to provide our customers the best entertainment experience,” said Brian Neylon, Group President, DISH TV, in the company’s July 29, 2021 announcement. “Our customers now have greater choice in the content they can access. HBO Max and Cinemax offer iconic, beloved and acclaimed content that our customers will enjoy.”

DISH TV customers get a special deal on the ad-free tier of HBO Max at $12 a month for up to 12 months if they subscribe by October 27, 2021. This is a $2.99 discount per month from the regular price. The HBO Max streaming subscription includes all of HBO, DC superheroes, HBO Max Originals and, through 2021, customers will also get access to Warner Bros. movies on HBO Max the same day they premier in theaters. Those films will be available for 31 days from their release date.

The ad-free tier of HBO Max also includes more than 13,000 hours of premium content, including shows from Cartoon Network, Adult Swim and Turner Classic Movies. In addition, DISH TV customers can access six live channels, including HBO, HBO Family and HBO Signature plus HBO shows on demand.

“When we launched HBO Max, we set out to make it available to customers everywhere they chose to access premium content, and today’s launch with DISH is a key addition to our distribution strategy for the platform,” said Scott Miller, Executive Vice President of Business & Legal Affairs for WarnerMedia. “We’re excited that DISH customers can now access all that HBO Max – as well as our premium linear networks – have to offer.”

DISH TV customers can sign up for Cinemax for $10 a month, which includes three live channels including Cinemax, 5-Star Max and More Max plus thousands of movies on demand.

Substack Acquires Newsletter Platform ‘Letter’

Substack is growing! Last week the newsletter startup announced their acquisition of Letter, a platform for public, written conversation and debate (not clickbait). The platform, which has attracted writers like Helen Pluckrose, Noam Chomsky, Yuval Noah Harari and Massimo Pigliucci, has a similar mission to Substack in that it is trying to rewrite the rules for engaging an audience.

“We could see that Letter, like Substack, was working in opposition to the ad-driven attention economy, attempting to change the rules of engagement for online discourse. Then we got to know the brothers Dayne and Clyde Rathbone, two of Letter’s founders, and found that our suppositions were correct. The Letter team shares Substack’s values – that good writing is valuable and what you read matters – and the determination to nurture a media ecosystem that can advance the quality of conversation. It wasn’t long until we became interested in working together,” said Substack in a July 29, 2021 blog post.

Working on creating and developing the platform for over a decade, Letter encourages its writers and readers to have “conversations in good faith,” meaning that they communicate in a fair, open and honest way and with good intentions. The platform is free to use and is ad-free.

The Letter team, including the Rathbone brothers, will move from Australia to San Francisco to help Substack build its infrastructure with the ultimate goal of connecting independent writers with their readers. Substack said that, while their writers enjoy their editorial independence, they also thrive as a community of writers and readers. Substack provides them a forum to do both and to monetize their work, so they aren’t relegated to the business models of mainstream media.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled to welcome Letter to Substack to help with these efforts, and to keep investing in an ecosystem that helps writers lift each other up and achieve independence, together,” Substack wrote.

It isn’t clear how Substack and Letter will integrate their work, but this acquisition has great potential as the companies’ respective audiences grow. This will be increasingly more important as other, much larger platforms (e.g., Twitter, Facebook, Forbes) attempt to get their share of the growing subscription newsletter market.

PayPal to Launch a ‘Super App’ with Host of New Features

PayPal, one of the original digital payment solutions, is trying to keep up with competitors by transitioning into a “super app” which would rival competitors like WeChat in China and Paytm in India, reports TechCrunch. In a call with analysts on July 28, John Rainey, PayPal CFO and executive vice president of global customer operations, spoke about the app said that, at launch, it will not be a completely different unique experience.

“This is really about building blocks and foundation and giving us the capability to roll out experiences over time. There’s maybe a tendence to describe this as a Ferrari versus the Model T Ford that we have right now; that’s not going to be the first initial experience,” Rainey said.

“This is something that we’ll build on over time and add capabilities…a big part of this new app for us is actually rewiring or replumbing the app to allow us to add functionality and capabilities to it in a much nimbler fashion than what it takes today where we effectively have to overhaul the app to add some of these experiences,” added Rainey.

New features will include high-yield savings, early access to direct deposit funds, new and improved bill pay functionality, messaging capabilities, crypto capabilities, and deals and offers customized to users.

Dan Schulman, PayPal president and CEO, gave an update on the super app in the second quarter 2021 earnings call.

“I’m pleased to report that the initial version of our new consumer wallet super app is code complete, and we are now beginning to slowly ramp. In the next several months, we plan to be fully ramped in the U.S. with a host of products and services across payments, basic consumer financial services and commerce and shopping tools launching every quarter,” the president and CEO said.

The company first announced its plans for a super app on its third quarter 2020 earnings call. During that call, Schulman gave more details about the company’s plans for the Venmo and PayPal apps.

“Over the next year, both the Venmo and PayPal apps will undergo a fundamental transformation intended to dramatically increase their functionality and drive engagement. Our goal is to provide our customers with a comprehensive set of services and tools to manage their financial lives, as well as enhance our ability to shop both online and offline. This expanded suite of services will include enhanced direct deposit and check cashing, budget and savings tools, bill pay, investment alternatives, including crypto, subscription management, buy now, pay later optionality, and all of Honey’s shopping tools from wish lists, price monitoring, deals, coupons, and rewards. An important enabler of engagement is our comprehensive push into the physical world,” Schulman said.

“Our goal is to be the most ubiquitous payment capability in the offline market, through a combination of QR codes, contactless cards, NFC inside our mobile apps, as well as our embedded payout wallet experiences inside Google Pay and Samsung Pay, among others,” added Schulman.

PayPal is ramping up to launch PayPal’s new and improved “super app.” Image: Bigstock Photo

Tumblr Faces Backlash and User Protest After Announcing Post+ Subscription

Some Tumblr fans are not happy about the platform’s new Tumblr Post+ subscription service, which will allow Tumblr creators to charge $3.99, $5.99 or $9.99 a month for exclusive or paywalled content. Some of the backlash was so bad that Tumblr wrote it’s own post, telling users that they won’t allow their creators to be harassed. In the post, Tumblr encouraged people to complete the survey to share feedback. The post received more than 63,000 reactions (likes, reblogs, comments).

Tumblr’s original post:

A few reactions to the post:

One Tumblr creator using the account name @postplus-protest, announced that they were organizing a protest to show their displeasure about the proposed subscription. During the 24-hour protest, scheduled to begin August 6 at 12 a.m. Eastern, the user is encouraging people to log off Tumblr and to stay off the site for a full day.

We don’t know if Tumblr will continue with its plans for its Post+ subscription service, designed to help creators monetize their work with a 5% revenue share to Tumblr, but this puts a whole new twist on things.

LinkedIn: Top Subscription Jobs

Growth Marketing Manager, Apple Music
Culver City, CA

We’re looking for an experienced Growth Marketing Manager for Apple Music. Do you love music and have a passion for content marketing? Have you worked in building growth marketing strategies and campaigns including user journeys for subscription based services? Do you enjoy tracking and optimizing campaigns to maximize performance to ensure your customers are listening to more of their favorite music? The Growth Marketing Operations Team plays a key role in enabling on-device communications and automated messaging for Apple’s media products and services. The team focuses on the timely delivery, strategy, and execution of in-app messaging sent to millions of users across multiple Apple services, including: Apple TV+, Music, Arcade, Fitness+, App Store, and Apple One. Read more.

Director of Subscription Marketing
Encyclopædia Britannica

Encyclopædia Britannica is looking for a high-energy and experienced Director of Subscription Marketing to drive subscription revenue across Britannica’s digital products. This individual will lead the Consumer Marketing team and be responsible for implementing the marketing strategy with the goal of developing new acquisition channels, improving customer retention, and optimizing product workflows to maximize conversion. Read more.

Director, CRM – Growth Marketing
New York, NY

SoundCloud is looking for a Director of CRM & Subscription Marketing, who will be responsible for helping lead the lifecycle marketing strategy for SoundCloud’s listener and creator audiences. In this strategic role as part of the Growth Marketing leadership team, you will develop and execute programs to engage with our audience through every phase of their lifecycle with the SoundCloud suite of products. The ideal candidate will be a self-motivated, organized, detail-oriented, highly experienced digital marketer with a passion for executing on business objectives, strategy and planning for a successful multi-channel customer experience. Excellent interpersonal and communication skills and a passion for music are essential. Read more.

Premium Subscription Manager – The Roku Channel
Roku, Inc.
Santa Monica, CA

Roku is seeking a Premium Subscription Manager for The Roku Channel (TRC) to join our programming and engagement team. The role requires a diverse range of direct to consumer subscription video experience across product, content acquisition, data/analytics, and marketing. Reporting to the Senior Manager, SVOD Strategy and Growth, the Premium Subscription Manager will play an integral part in helping to shape the future of the subscription and transactional experience in The Roku Channel more broadly. To be successful, the candidate will need to to be comfortable modeling out projections based on new business strategies, leading negotiations, developing go-to-market plans, collaborating with our product and engineering teams to influence core features, and communicating results effectively to senior leadership. Having a strong demonstrated record of building a strategy and driving it to execution is a must. Read more.

Director, Brand Marketing
New York, NY

Shutterstock is seeking a Director, Brand Marketing to run point on activating our unique brand strategy to convey our compelling narrative of empowering storytellers around the globe. This dynamic leader will serve as a strategic partner, subject matter expert, and the main collaborator across internal functions, and external partners to implement and activate a wide variety of Shutterstock’s brand marketing initiatives. Experience leading agency and in-house teams in traditional and digital media planning and buying is required. Additionally, the ability to run point on managing creative assets to ensure coordination throughout the marketing funnel is a must. Familiarity with gathering data, implementing tracking, and coordinating various types of measurement to gauge brand performance is also preferred. Read more.

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