I’ve been thinking about the recent rise in subscription models for content such as The Daily or the New York Times paywall. Alan’s recent invitation for thoughts on his related post gave me the perfect reason to write something.
I’m in the camp of those who think that good content is independent content, produced without influenced from advertisers, and authored by dedicated people who spend precious time to research. I also think that good content is accessible content: available to many, if not to anyone, to read, correct or comment on. It’s content I can share, content that I don’t need to pay for before I read.
Growing up in France, I remember being explained that public channels weren’t really free: for each TV set you’d buy, you would pay a yearly tax called “redevance” or television license to the state. In turns, the state would use audience tracking service to figure which channels were most watched, and would split the reveneus of redevance accordingly to the channels.
I don’t know what the status of redevance is, and I am no fan of statism. That said, I do like the idea of paying a monthly fee that gets split into what you actually consumed and liked. This is what Flattr does, but it works on a voluntary basis, which effectively limits its potential.
For such a system to work, you need:
- a way charge a subscription to a large enough collection of private content,
- a way for subscribers to rate and share content with their friends who are on the same network,
- a transparent allocation of revenues to the content producers according to audience metrics.
I don’t know if NetFlix uses a similar model to compensate content providers, but if not, this could work for them, right now. They could literally open their doors to many short or long form content creators and provide them a share of their monthly subscription fees based on audience metrics.
Think NetFlix + Vimeo + Flattr.