Subscription Based Reading, Please
The future is now. I’ve come to that conclusion twice this month. With the launch of F1TV and a new platform I’m trying out called The Athletic. Both subscription based content services that, in just two days, has totally changed the way I look at my entertainment consumption. Let’s start with The Athletic.
The sports page, particularly on the internet, is annoying. Honestly, think about it. Take five seconds and really think about the time, energy and bandwidth it takes to go to your favorite sporting site. After you’ve waited half your lunch break for all the pop-ups to go away, you’ve taken 15% off your battery that you forgot to charge last night and used half your data plan. All of this to check the score of your team, that’s been underperforming for most of the last decade. Now, imagine a world where the site wasn’t cluttered. No auto-play videos. No pop-ups. Not 14,000 things for you to think about clicking on. Just articles. Based on your favorite teams and/or sport. No ads trying to get you to buy something you don’t need. Just articles. Well written. Great photography. Long form, articles. This sounds like some corner of Narnia doesn’t it? Well it’s not. It’s right here. And it’s a mind boggling $8 a month. I know, I know. I was thinking the same thing. Hopefully you were sitting down. I wasn’t and I have the scar to prove it. Netflix is really what started this trend, if I’m thinking clearly. They were the first ones to give customers the content they wanted, streamlined, simple and no ads. Hopefully it stays that way forever. But The Athletic is doing this with journalism. Making the reading/viewing experience simple and clean. But not with writers like me, who write on the toilet hiding from their kids after dinner. But from some of the best writers in North America. Ever heard of Peter Gammons? Ken Rosenthal? Just to name a few. The Athletic changed the way I look at news consumption. I want this for everything I care about. $8 a month is what I spend on extra sauce at McDonald’s. You’re not taking away from the kids college fund with that price. Will it be that forever? Of course not. But even if it climbed 50% it’d be $12 a month? Oh man. Might have to take out a second mortgage! Obviously not everyone can afford to pay for any kind of news. Especially when 100% of news is free. So it begs to question: why? To that I say, you get what you pay for. Like anything in life, quality improves as prices go up. Or so it should. In this case it’s worth the investment. Yes, I’m using the word investment. Largely because it was the first word to come to mind, but secondly because that’s what it is. Investing in a quality product and not feeding the media machines of ESPN and the like. Who plaster pop-up banners so large you have to use a magnifying glass to find the “X” and have the dexterity of a heart surgeon to click on it, without actually hitting the link. If you’re one of the lucky four people whose had the unfortunate fate to have read this far, I’m telling you, subscribe to The Athletic. You won’t be disappointed.
Next is F1TV. No, I’m not entirely sure if there’s supposed to be a space between F1 and TV so we’re just going to roll with F1TV. Admittedly haven’t hit the “buy” button yet. I work for the State. I don’t make a lot of money. But from what I’ve read and some of the “Twitter reviews” it’s a homerun. For my UK folks, the most important F1 demographic arguably, I’m sorry. I guess Sky Sports holds all rights to F1 content, thus F1TV is not available in those markets. What’s to stop a guy in America from giving his English buddy his log-in info? I don’t know. Wouldn’t surprise me if England had a strict internet policy like they do for knives, guns and children’s healthcare (too soon?). What Formula 1 has done is made people damn near their own race director. Not to mention all the old races it gives you access to. One of the most frustrating things about F1 as a company, for years, has been the control of their content. They don’t let anyone or anything use their stuff. So it’s hard to relive some good moments of the past. Disclaimer: I’ve never seen Aryton Senna race. He died in 1993. I was 6 yrs old. I barely knew what a car was. Let alone Formula 1. I didn’t come from a family of race fans. I found this passion on my own. But you can’t find his races. Sure YouTube if you want to watch it Brazilian or Japanese. Maybe I’m not that diehard. But I’m not going to watch 2 hrs of someone yelling a language I don’t understand. So F1 incorporating that is a selling point enough for me. Oh and did I add, its all commercial free. That’s right. Again, no ads. It’s like the entertainment Gods have heard our prayers. This is how I want to consume content. I think leagues and companies have caught on that consumers are sick of being bombarded with someone trying to sell us something. Phones come with built in ads. Computers do too. Next device you buy, watch how the device will market to you. The thing you paid for will tell you to buy more things. It’s overkill. Maybe people are catching on. Who knows?
What I do know is that this is the future. Disney already announced plans for a subscription based service. F1 has done it. IndyCar is working on something similar. On the journalistic side, I’m sure other outlets have or will take notice of what The Athletic has done and will continue to do. This is one of the rare times, I’m excited for what the future will hold.