This fall has been a baseball dream season (so far) for this Mets fan. Even when traveling I want to at least be able to listen to the game if not watch on television (or better yet in person). MLB.com is one of the best pro sports licensing operations around. They are so good that the National Hockey League has tapped MLB.com to power its NHL.com offerings. More importantly MLB.com has exclusive rights to broadcast TV and radio feeds for all 32 MLB teams. So if I wish to listen to my Mets on my smartphone, there is no access to the local broadcast except through MLB.
So say for instance I am at the beach one fine summer day and I wish to listen to the game. Unless I subscribe to MLB.com or have a transistor radio (I know I have one in the basement someplace), I am out of luck.
Having taken this path myself I ended up back at MLB.com (I have subscribed in the past for an entire season but have not over the past few mundane Met campaigns). However instead of having to pay the full ‘annual’ fee two months prior to the end of the regular season I was given a monthly option of $2.99/month for non-premium TV that included team-by-team radio feeds. That sounded reasonable, I subscribed and it’s been great to have that utility. The annual non-TV feed MLB.com subscription fee was $19.99/season. Add what MLB.com refers to as ‘premium’ TV coverage is over $100 annually.
So when I think about a micropayment (generally considered to be under $10), I consider $2.99/month to fit that category. Much has been written about micropayment platforms such as Bitcoin (I am a believer) and competitors such as Apple Pay, Google Wallet, Venmo, Pay Pal, Snapcash and Facebook.
Publishing has been hoping that micropayments would be the salvation of an industry based on annual subscriptions. Cable TV and Internet service providers are not nearly as ready to consider a world in which people might not HAVE to subscribe over a long or long-ish period to receive service. Yet publishers have adapted. Users receiving 5 or 10 free articles per month prior to paying for content understand the idea that nothing is free forever. Offering these possible future customers the opportunity to buy month-by-month access at substantially reduced costs (maybe 1/10th the price of an annual subscription) with no future commitment is I admit not the most secure business model, but times have changed and so must the ways people buy, consume, and stay engaged with content producers.
What if after the ‘free’ access articles were offered for cents on the dollar? Read an article it costs $.25. Episodic television shows via platforms such as Hulu.com and Netflix already are far down the road with the pay-as-you-go model. I believe that in the future the bulk of micropayments will be less than $1.
The big difference maker is technology and its ability to assist in processing and keeping (securely) track of all the billions of present and future micropayments. WE have the tools. People just have to get used to the idea and I am 100% convinced they will. Eventually.
Have you been using any of the micropayment services? Probably Paypal, Google Wallet, Apple Pay and Venmo are most well known and I have used three of them however I’ve yet to try Bitcoin. How about you?