Wednesday, June 05, 2019

Subscription Drugs

As I'm sure you've noticed, almost everything we buy these days is now paid for as a subscription. From hair dyes and shaving clubs to access to your favorite porn sites and news sites, lump sums have been replaced with more palatable monthly fees. (Heck, you can't even make a charitable donation to those clipboard vigilantes on the sidewalk unless you're willing to fork over your credit-credit number and let them screw you monthly.)

It's been well-chronicled how the internet ripped the bottom out on the business plan of so many cherished industries, including newspapers, book publishing and music. While The Wall Street Journal saw the writing on the wall early and never gave away its online content, others have spent the past decade-plus playing catch-up, with mixed results. Anyone can switch to the subscription model -- The Daily Beast now wants you to pay for "premium" content. But the question is, are there enough people willing to pay for what you were once giving away for free? I frequently find myself thinking I can't live without something I once had and signing up -- only to let it go a month or two later. (Remembering to cancel subscriptions I was "trying on for size" is becoming a full-time job -- and a lot of them don't make it easy!)

All of this is a long way of wanting to know what monthly expenses have you added to your budget via the subscription world we now live in? (Don’t forget those dating and hookup apps.) Sometimes I lament how it "adds up" having all these additional fees on top of my already exorbitant cable bill. But then I remember that I'm no longer paying for two or more daily print newspapers or compact discs up the ying-yang -- which is to say nothing of my letting magazines fall by the wayside (at one point I think I subscribed to about 20 ... sorry, Conde Nast!) -- and I'm not convinced I'm coming out behind.

My current line-up:

The New York Times
The Daily News

The Washington Post*

*Jeff Bezos' properties -- both of which I get -- have opted to stay on the annual lump sum way of paying. Ouch!

What about you?


Myk said...

NY Times and Netflix, though I'm thinking of dropping the latter. I've started reading again (Democracy in Chains by Nancy MacLean - O. M. G! - and Nigel Hamilton's trilogy about FDR during WWII) and realize I enjoy the relation between me and the printed word better than that with shadows on a screen. I'd drop WSJ; why support that right wing devil?

AaronSF said...

Subscribing to Netflix and Hulu sure beats paying a monthly fee of $150 to Comcast for 250 channels I don't watch and never will.

Edgar_Carpenter said...

I like it that the Guardian lets me just donate some money to them now and then. That's what I've done for years with open source software I use, and it makes sense to me for news sites, too.

Sites that I go to only occasionally, like the WSJ which you link to fairly often, are not worth a subscription price to me. I can usually find the information in their article elsewhere, and if not, I can do without. And sites which offer single stories for a huge price in an effort to make you subscribe? I'll pass, thanks. A realistic small price per article and a paypal button next to the headline would be fine with me.

Then there are sites like the New Yorker - I did subscribe a few years ago, but instead of a nice web site of their full content, they offered a clunky digital image of their paper magazine that was not fit for reading on a monitor. I'm sure some people though that it was classy or "artistically honest" or something, but I found it irritating. It's not an illuminated 13th century Book of Hours that I want to examine, it's a magazine made of digital parts which can be easily turned into HTML. I let the subscription lapse, it was just too clumsy and twee.

barryearle said...

Broadway HD
NY Times Digital

And there is not enough time in the day to watch everything I want to watch and peruse YouTube, my major source of music and other entertainment. But this sure beats the days of yore with three channels of TV and a rabbit ears antennae or just radio. Holding my iPod in my hand, I like to say that 100 years ago most people never heard a symphonic orchestra. Now I'm holding one in my hand.

Rix said...

LAT ($5/month if you whine)

Hulu and Netflix for a month a year.

Full boat Comcast. (shared)

Sirius/XM (move tuner between cars and house $60/year for whining)