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Substack Pushes Video as Creator Subscriptions Compete to Stand Out

Substack Pushes Video as Creator Subscriptions Compete

With increasing competition among platforms promising influencers and creators the opportunity to monetize their followings, Substack is pushing back against its reputation as a newsletter platform, emphasizing its multimedia tools.

In a post to the platform Wednesday (Nov. 29), Co-founder and CEO Chris Best, Co-founder and Chief Writing Officer Hamish McKenzie and Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer Jairaj Sethi emphasized the platform’s visual and design offerings, its audio tools, its podcasting features and the recent introduction of video options.

“Today, …we’re expanding our video capabilities to support the many great shows already being produced on the platform, and to enable the creation of new types of subscriber-supported work built around video,” the co-founders stated. “Now it’s possible to host and distribute anything from video podcasts to web shows to feature films on Substack.”

These additions include video podcasting tools, a “flexible paywall” that enables creators to make certain parts of an episode available to the public, artificial intelligence transcripts and more.

These features bring the platform into competition with video-focused social media sites as well as step up its competitive positioning against other subscription providers. Increasingly, platforms are looking to seize on the rise of influencer culture by offering subscription tools for creators. Patreon, for instance, has been a key player in the space, and the company continues to expand its tools, acquiring a livestreaming platform last month.

Plus, new players are entering the space with their own versions of creator subscriptions. Roblox announced this month the launch of its program enabling creators to offer in-game subscriptions within the experiences (i.e., digital spaces) they have made. Plus, last month, courses and coaching platform Teachable announced the launch of Memberships, enabling creators to offer their own content subscriptions.

Subscription models provide a valuable opportunity. Research featured last year in the “Subscription Commerce Tracker®,” a PYMNTS and Vindicia collaboration, found that consumers spend an average of $273 per month on subscription services.

Yet these kinds of subscriptions are not a surefire hit. Tumblr announced this week that it is ending its Post+ program, which enabled users on the site to offer exclusive content via paid subscriptions, suggesting that perhaps the landscape is becoming too crowded.

Competition is a challenge in subscription industries. PYMNTS Intelligence’s study “The State of Subscription Business: Best Practices and Business Performance Drivers,” created in collaboration with FlexPay, was based on a survey of 200 executive decision-makers at companies that offer subscription-based services and products. It found that 30% reported facing churn from losing customers to competitors’ services or products.

However, consumers’ ability to afford these kinds of subscriptions is compromised during times of economic challenges. The study “The One-Stop Bill Pay Playbook: Drivers of Consumers’ Bill Payment Priorities,” a PYMNTS Intelligence and Mastercard collaboration, drew from a survey of more than 2,100 consumers in December. It revealed that 30% of digital media subscribers had made at least one partial payment or skipped at least one payment in the previous year. This share is greater than said the same of any other kind of subscription.