Is Paid for Subscription dead?

Subscription iconBe prepared, this article contains nostalgia!  In the old days, I subscribed to many things, The Beano, Movie Maker magazine, fan clubs and so on. It was a thrilled each month to receive something through the post, almost unexpected and addressed exclusively to me. When the Internet arrived, you could do the same online and there was still a tingle of excitement when an email arrived to announce the latest newsletter or some other content was waiting for you to download.

Of course, that still goes on, but originally this service was paid for up front, not a free subscription.

Now, I am curious;  it seems to be the law that everything on the Internet, and most especially video content, has to be free. I am not including recent feature films and hot off the press television series here, although if you know where to look, even they are available without paying. Totally illegal, I hasten to add.

The reason I ask is that I am attempting to find a financial method to pay for the continuation of the Bald Explorer series. As you may be aware, I have a Kickstarter fund-raiser currently on the go to try to bring in enough money to make another episode. Whether it succeeds or not in achieving this, that will only give the Bald Explorer fan base with one more  programme.  Britain is full of exciting places to go to, amazing stories to tell and lives to discover.  Is there another way to fund the series?

I am curious what my audience think. Would a paid for subscription, in principle, be doable or is the very concept these days objectionable. Would a monthly delivered ten minute mini programme be of interest, available to download privately, and yours to keep for ever warrant a fee of,  say £10 a year? And would anyone subscribe?

If you have any thoughts, please do comment below. Thank you very much.

NB: If you look down in the comments below, Ross suggests a pre-ordered DVD might be a sensible way to fund an episode. I am curious, would viewers be interested in that mechanism?  An episode would be approximately 45 minutes in length, with behind the scenes footage and outtakes. And what price would you expect to pay? Thanks.

5 Replies to “Is Paid for Subscription dead?”

  1. Hmm, it’s a tough one. People have become so use to free online content that many are reluctant to pay for it.

    However, as long as the same content is not available anywhere and exclusively just for those who pay then it could work.

    I still believe DVD’s continue to be the way forward (as opposed to paying for online video) as people will always be happy to pay for a physical product. If there was a 6 episode series of the Bald Explorer or maybe a 90 minute episode only available on DVD then I would most certainly buy it.

    If I was in your position, it would be DVD all the way. Especially as Heritage places would stock it, Americans would love it and you could sell it through websites such as ‘Anglotopia’ and ‘Smitten By Britain’ that literally have hundreds of thousands of monthly visitors who love British Heritage.

    There is a massive customer base for the Bald Explorer, you just need to find the right way of tapping into it.

  2. Thanks Ross, I appreciate your thoughts and swift reply. I do agree that a new series on DVD would sell and possibly a return on investment might be achieved. The problem is to raise the initial investment to begin with. It is doubtful that a bank would lend the £30K required to make, say, a six part series. Distributors seem hesitant to stump up money in advance, so you end up in a catch 22 situation.

    For me, at present, the only foreseeable way forward is to find a funding method that pays for the episodes as you go. Sadly, this seems equally unlikely.

  3. Yes, I see what you mean, it is difficult.

    I do know an American couple that raised the money for there DVD buy asking people to Pre Order it – they then used that money to create the actual film.

    Whatever happens Richard, you will get there, stay positive and keep trying!

    1. Perhaps if the Kickstarter pans out (or doesn’t), I might try the pre-order DVD idea on a one episode at a time basis. I would still like to be able to give the Community Channel the episodes, at least down the line, as the benefits of being to boast being on the television is a good one and give me access to historical sites, I might not otherwise get.

      Ross, I have updated the original post now with an NB, with your suggestion. It would be interesting to see if anyone can assist me with a suggested price of such a DVD.

  4. Hi Richard,
    I’m guessing that you probably looked into it before but have you considered applying to any organisations that fund worthy projects such as yours? I ask as I’ve just been looking at the Arts council’s website and they have a list of such organisations such as the Channel 4 British documentary film foundation among others (please see the link below)

    As for other means of raising funds I really do think that using pre-Order is a good way of doing it but also perhaps fundraising events/evenings etc is worth thinking about.
    I really do feel that if none of the above is viable then perhaps an annual subscription of say £30 would be a good way to go. As for D.V.D prices I’m not sure if doing it one episode at a time is a good way to go mainly due to the costs involved as it seems the cheapest way is to produce them in large quantities and your looking at around £600 per thousand if using a company to do this unless of course you are able to produce them yourself!
    Perhaps if it’s possible to have say 3 episodes on each D.V.D you could then charge £10 or £12? I say that as I really can’t see the public paying any more than that and I doubt if there was only 1 episode on there that many folk would buy it at all.
    Too be honest I don’t understand why you haven’t been snapped up by one of the larger television companies such as the B.B.C as the quality and entertainment and of course educational standard of your programmes is excellent!!!

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