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

Five on Friday: Roku, Restaurants and Reality TV

Featuring Quibi, Discovery+, AMC Theatres and LinkedIn

Just when we thought we couldn’t top 2020, this year has started off in ways we could never have imagined. As we collectively hope for a peaceful resolution to the chaos, we’ll leave the political news coverage to the experts, and we’ll focus on what we do best – covering subscription news and trends. In our first edition of Five on Friday this year, Roku is looking to acquire Quibi’s content, subscription services are helping restaurants survive the pandemic, and Discovery+ banks on reality TV. Also this week, AMC Theatres is on a mission to raise money to help the company avoid bankruptcy, and LinkedIn shares the latest subscription top jobs.

Roku May Acquire Quibi Content

Six months after its launch, short-form video streaming subscription service Quibi shut down. The company made the announcement in October 2020 and shuttered the app for good in December, despite a hefty initial investment of $1.75 billion. Subscribers and creators are wondering where Quibi’s content will go, including shows featuring celebrities like Anna Kendrick, Chrissy Teigen, Kevin Hart and Steven Spielberg. Roku may be interested in acquiring Quibi’s content catalog to attract viewers to the Roku Channel with shows like Most Dangerous Game, Dummy, Murder House Flip and Chrissy’s Court, reports Media Play News.

According to preliminary fourth quarter 2020 data, Roku had 51.2 million active accounts at year end, representing growth of 14 million accounts over the course of the year. In December alone, the Roku Channel reached 61.8 million people. Total streaming hours for the fourth quarter were 17 billion, bringing the total hours streamed for the year to 58.7 billion for the year, a 55% increase over 2019.

“I’m excited that more than 50 million households now turn to Roku for their TV viewing,” said Roku CEO Anthony Wood in a January 6, 2021 news release. “The world is moving to streaming and we look forward to continuing to help viewers, advertisers, content publishers, and TV manufacturers succeed in the Streaming Decade.”

Roku May Acquire Quibi Content
Image courtesy of Quibi

How Subscriptions Have Helped Support Restaurants During the Pandemic

Virtually every sector of commerce has been affected by the pandemic over the course of the last 10 to 11 months. Restaurants were among the hardest hit, with many regions and states locking down nonessential businesses to help prevent the spread of the virus. While some businesses were able to survive a short-term shutdown and others qualified for government grants to stay afloat, restrictions continue as we deal with post-holiday COVID spikes.

Citing a study by McKinsey & Company, a recent article by QSR Magazine points out that there are five primary factors that have influenced how restaurants have fared during the pandemic: mix of on- and off-premise sales, reliance on meal periods, “urbancity,” digital maturity and perception of value. QSR also pointed out that, in some cases, subscription services have helped restaurants survive. Here are a few examples:

MyPanera+: Early last year, Panera expanded its rewards program by adding a coffee subscription component. For $8.99 a month plus tax, rewards customers can become subscribers to the MyPanera+ coffee subscription. The new subscription program gives subscribers one cup, any size, of drip hot coffee, hot tea or iced coffee every two hours during regular bakery hours, including unlimited free refills of the same beverage. The big attraction for regular customers is savings. The attraction for Panera is growing customer loyalty, the possibility of selling high-margin products like baked goods and breakfast sandwiches to subscribers, and a recurring revenue stream.

DoorDash and GrubHub: Both food delivery services offer subscriptions which waive delivery fees and offers lower delivery fees from participating restaurants. DoorDash, for example, offers DashPass. For $9.99 a month, diners get free delivery and lower service fees on orders that exceed a minimum amount (usually $15). GrubHub offers a similar subscription with GrubHub+. These subscriptions make ordering takeout more affordable for subscribers, which ultimately boosts restaurant sales, and they give restaurants a way to get their food to customers in their homes.

Samovar: To avoid shutting down completely and laying off all staff, this savvy San Francisco restaurant created an opportunity during the pandemic when California’s “shelter in place” order went into effect. Samovar launched a subscription program where customers can order family style meals and basic grocery provisions (milk, coffee, organic tea, eggs, cheese, etc.).

Ritual: Ritual is a subscription-based online ordering platform for restaurants. In December, the state of New York partnered with Ritual to give participating restaurants use of the platform through the end of March (or April if enough restaurants participate). Until then, Ritual is waiving credit card processing fees, pick-up or delivery fees, and subscription and set-up fees for restaurants. This is a great opportunity for restaurants who have been taking orders old-school (over the phone or via walk-in traffic) to use technology to keep their businesses alive during COVID.

These are just a few examples of the ways subscriptions have helped support restaurants during this unprecedented time. The pandemic has forced businesses to rethink how they get their products and services to customers, some of which are likely to carryover to the post-pandemic days ahead.

Subscription services have helped support restaurants during the pandemic.

AMC Theatres Hopes to Raise $125M to Avoid Bankruptcy

Speaking of industries hit by the pandemic, AMC Theatres has been hit extremely hard by the closure of movie theatres. In fact, in its third quarter report for 2020, the company said its income was down 90.9% compared to the third quarter of 2019. Total attendance was down 92.5% with only 6.5 million moviegoers, compared to 87.1 million in the third quarter of 2019.

In an attempt to stop the bleeding, AMC Entertainment Holdings secured a $100 million commitment in first lien debt financing from Mudrick Capital Management in early December. The company is now hoping to raise $125 million by selling 50 million shares of Class A stock to help it avoid bankruptcy. The company needs $750 million of additional liquidity, on top of the $100 million in debt financing, to fund its cash requirements through 2021, says CNBC.

“We need to raise more, but we’re working hard to do that and we’ve laid out a plan and a blueprint to get there. Whether we get there or not, only time will tell,” said CEO Adam Aron in an interview with CNBC.

AMC Theaters, who has a subscription program (AMC Stubs A-List) for frequent movie goers, has recently started offering private theatre rentals, which start at $99 plus tax, for up to 20 friends and family. During a soft launch of the offering, AMC was contacted by 110,000 potential guests to get additional information. The program, which is in beta testing, allows guests to book a private screening of fan favorites and a few new releases. All rentals follows AMC Safe & Clean policies and protocols to ensure guest safety.

“The results and feedback from our guests about AMC Safe & Clean have been overwhelmingly positive, and Private Theatre Rentals at AMC provides an additional layer of safety and security to those moviegoers who are looking to see movies with just their family members and friends. It’s unprecedented for AMC to receive 110,000 contacts in four weeks about a private theatre rental, based only on word of mouth and organic publicity, and we are excited about and appreciative of the interest this has sparked among AMC guests,” said Elizabeth Frank, EVP Worldwide Programming & Chief Content Officer.

AMC Theatres Hopes to Raise $125M to Avoid Bankruptcy

Discovery+ Banks on Popularity of Reality TV

Are you a reality TV junkie? Do you like watching cooking shows, nature programs, dance moms, detective shows and other unscripted, non-fiction television? Discovery+ launched earlier Monday to provide reality TV fans with their favorite shows from more than a dozen different networks, including HGTV, Food Network, TLC, ID, OWN, Animal Planet, Discovery, the HISTORY channel, Lifetime, DIY Network, BBC Planet Earth, and more, plus exclusive Discovery+ originals. At launch, subscribers can access more than 55,000 episodes from 2,500+ shows, featuring the best of the networks’ lifestyle, home and family, food, nature and adventure, and true crime content.

The streaming video service offers ad-supported reality TV for $4.99 a month or ad-free reality TV for $6.99. Available on most major platforms including smart televisions, mobile devices, tablets, game consoles and the web, Discovery+ is available in the U.S., the U.K., Ireland and India. Discovery+ has plans to roll out to 25 countries in the near future. Verizon and Discovery+ are partnering to provide customers on up to 12 months of Discovery+ for free, depending on their plan.

“With decades of connecting audiences in every corner of the globe to the local voices and stories they love, Discovery drives inspiration, aspiration and loyalty everywhere, like few media brands can.  discovery+ will harness our unique global and local model and strategy to serve fans around the world as we bring the best of real life entertainment to customers in a whole new way,” said JB Perrette, president and CEO of Discovery International.

Discovery+ Banks on Popularity of Reality TV

LinkedIn Top Subscription Jobs

Executive Communications Manager
Atlanta, GA

SXMP is seeking an Executive Communications Manager within our Product Development organization. This manager will lead and develop executive communications for the leadership of the Product Development organization. This position includes writing for both digital and traditional channels, presentation development, and other communications support as needed.

The Executive Communications Manager will report to the Chief of Staff/ VP of Product Development. This position will work primarily within the Product Development organization (Product Management, Technology Program Management and Software Engineering) and with internal Business Partners to create and deliver messaging materials that support Product Development strategy and positioning to internal audiences, and will partner with the public relations team on external communications. Read more.

Head of Global Internal Communications
Redwood City, CA

We’re looking for an experienced leader, collaborator, storyteller and communication expert to head Internal Communications for Zuora. In this highly visible position, you will play a critical role in the architecture of this global communication network and drive its execution to power up our ability to act with speed as we scale. Based in San Francisco or Redwood City, CA, but currently remote, this is a hands-on, high-profile, global role that will partner across the company, from our CEO and executive team to Marketing, Human Resources and senior leaders in various locations. This role is ideal for a leader who thrives in a fast-moving and highly collaborative environment, and who is committed to delivering an exceptional portfolio of internal communications. Read more.

ABM/Integrated Campaigns Manager
Boulder, CO

You love building programs from the ground up and conceptualizing a world where each channel, asset, and program fits perfectly into the larger plan. You are a highly creative strategist as much as an execution powerhouse, including partnering with, influencing and managing cross-functional stakeholders, as well as your marketing counterparts. You use hard data and strategic insights to make informed decisions and calculated bets. The highlights: You’ll help shape the future of Recurly marketing programs and team by developing, implementing, and executing creative, targeted multi-channel marketing campaigns and programs to specific audience segments to help us meet our growth goals. Read more.

CRM/Subscription Manager
Los Angeles, CA

This is an exciting opportunity to join the growing Humanrace Skincare team. The CRM/Subscription Manager will own and be responsible for developing and driving client programs that enhance the client experience through innovative initiatives that focus on acquisition, retention, and reactivation across all channels and segments. This candidate will own the development of and execution of all lifecycle marketing initiatives, including email, SMS, push notifications and all loyalty programs. This team member will implement and manage a successful subscription program for all products. This person will develop retention and win back strategies, run campaigns and testing (onsite & email), analyze cohort performance, and share results with the larger team. Read more.

Subscriber Insights Associate Director
House of Kaizen
New York City Metropolitan Area

We’re seeking a Subscriber Insights Associate Director to help make House of Kaizen a better place to work and a place that works better. Specifically someone who will design and manage the processes that uncover insights to inspire testing hypotheses and produce performance analysis that inform optimizations to grow our clients’ subscription, membership and loyalty products. This is a new role within House of Kaizen that will help us better understand what our client’s subscribers are thinking, doing, feeling across their entire journey past, present, future. Subscription businesses require subscriber-specific marketing expertise to acquire and retain customers for sustainable growth. As a dedicated subscriber growth firm, House of Kaizen develops and executes subscriber experience optimization programs that drive growth for some of the world’s best subscription brands. Critical to this process is the full-journey understanding of subscriber attitudes and behaviors, matched to business and marketing performance metrics that allow our teams to make better decisions and sustain growth over time. Read more.

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