December 21, 2009

Don't Leave Money on the Table With Your Paid Content

By Stephen Laliberte

I am on an airplane. It is Sunday afternoon and I should be watching the Vikings vs. the Packers. I have a 9:00AM meeting with a B2B publisher on Monday morning in New York and have to fly from Las Vegas to JFK, but the only flight available is during the first quarter of the football game. At the gate, I watched the Vikes take an early 7 to 3 lead and then I had to board the plane. My son had texted me that it was 14 to 3 by the time I was told to turn off my phone.

To my excitement, the flight offered Internet access. I was hopeful that I could receive the game during the flight. Although, I was skeptical about Internet TV, I figured I would be able to get the game on Internet radio.

As soon as the flight crew gave us the green light, I fired up my Mac and connected to the wireless. First, I needed to pay $10 to connect to the Internet for the day. Then I had to search for the game. After I went to Google, I searched and found NFL.com where they sell an Internet radio package. There was a one week package for $4. It looked like I could get the game!

The NFL page finally appeared and I saw an icon for Vikings VS Packers. I thought, "One more click and I can begin listening and find out the score." The audio player started loading and I received a notice that said "Buffering" which went on for two minutes. Finally, I heard the game.

"The Vikings have the ball on the Packers 15."

The sound stops and I wait 15 seconds.

"Brett Farve goes back to pass."

The sound stops again. Twenty seconds pass.

"The pass is overthrown."

Stop.

This is killing me. I suffer on. After five minutes of listening and waiting, I gave up. There has to be a better way!

December iPug 2009 I went back to Google and searched Vikings radio network where I found a local radio station in St. Paul that carries the game. They have a live Internet feed and I am wondering if I just paid for a bad service, or was there a free option that, in my haste, I overlooked? Is it too much to hope that the free option might actually work better?

I clicked on the program Vikings Game Day Live and received the station without it pausing. I heard commentary, but no game. I can feel an Internet embargo. The NFL has the local stations blocked out. Nuts!

I returned to NFL.com, but I didn't know if I could stand the 20 second on/off buffering. I fired the game back up and notice when it restarts, it is at the same place where I left it. I discovered that it is not live; rather I am listening to a file of the game. Now, I am 10 minutes behind the live game. I really didn't care. I am not missing anything, since they are blocking out the commercials there just might be hope. Once they run enough commercials, I might get behind the game enough so that it will buffer up and I will hear the game without stops. Sure enough, the breaks stop.

When there was a commercial, I received classical music instead. This happens without warning. I began to wonder if I lost the game. Then a voice came on and assured me that, "The game will resume momentarily." Whew. The game comes back on. Then I noticed that there was a pull down menu that says Packers. I click it and noticed there is an option for the Vikings. When I selected the Vikings option I received my favorite Vikings biased announcers. This is great! I can switch from one bias to another. I guess that this is sort of a value add!

Now if only my battery holds out for another 40 minutes.

I just did a pay per view of content that is generally free with advertising support. I began to wonder how much revenue is generated by NFL.com pay per view radio. I know they left money on the table with me today. Why allow a $4.00 option? After the cost of clearing the credit card, they probably only netted $3.42! Remove the cost of the platform and they may be losing money! They should have made me buy a month for $14.95.

How many people can't get to local radio or TV and need to hear the game via the Internet? People on planes, overseas, in the military. I wonder what they paid to set up the audio service and the pay per view e-commerce. I wonder if they are making any money on the service.

I am seeing more B2B publishers require payment for their content. I see some publishers discontinue their print versions on their controlled titles in order to cut costs. I also see required registration for access to content. Imagine that, B2B publishers are remembering that there is value in a known, controlled subscriber and they are applying this to their e-media.

There are two keys to success in this changing environment:

  1. Keep the value of your editorial high,
    and
  2. Don't be afraid to qualify your reader either through payment or registration.

You do not need to block the editorial, just keep the register option in front of the reader until they register. In a market where advertising dollars are hard to get, those publishers that deliver the best readers will harvest the most dollars.

The battery held. Vikings won 38 to 26!