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Tumblr Shutting Down Creator Subscriptions as Other Platforms Launch Them

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As more creator-focused platforms launch tools for makers to monetize their followings with subscriptions, Tumblr is ending its Post+ program, suggesting that perhaps the landscape is becoming too crowded.

The program, which enabled users on the site to offer exclusive content via paid subscriptions, is being disabled, with the ability to enable subscriptions ending Friday (Dec. 1), subscriber billing ending in January and the ability to create content through the program shutting down early in the new year. The move came after the social media site reviewed consumer feedback and usage data.

“We originally introduced Post+ to uplift and support the vast swathes of incredible creators here on Tumblr. It was intended as a way for creators to offer content to their followers in a paid subscription format,” the social media company stated in a post Monday (Nov. 27). “Well, it didn’t land as we’d hoped.”

The company added in a Q&A on the Post+ page that it could “no longer justify” the cost of keeping the program in operation, given the low usage rates. Existing content posted through the program will be marked as private, and creators will then have the choice to make these posts public if they wish.

Certainly, there is plenty of competition for both for consumers’ creator subscription spending and for those creators’ loyalty. Major social media platforms such as Instagram offer users the ability to create paid subscriptions, as do purpose-built platforms such as Patreon.

The underperformance of Tumblr’s program does not bode well for platforms just beginning to enter the creator subscription space. Earlier this month, for instance, gaming platform Roblox announced 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.

Yet many consumers pare back on membership subscriptions when their budgets come under pressure, according to the PYMNTS Intelligence study “The One-Stop Bill Pay Playbook: Drivers of Consumers’ Bill Payment Priorities,” created in collaboration with Mastercard. The study, which draws on a survey more than 2,100 U.S. consumers, found 50% would cancel their membership subscriptions if they were unable to pay all their bills, while 19% would prioritize paying these bills in full over others.

Still, overall, subscriptions present a significant opportunity.

According to research featured last year in the “Subscription Commerce Tracker,” a PYMNTS and Vindicia collaboration, consumers spend an average of $278 per month on streaming services. Plus, 80% of consumers reported spending money on music streaming subscriptions each month.

Moreover, as more competitors enter the ring, subscription services are at risk of losing their customers. PYMNTS Intelligence’s study “The State Of Subscription Business: Best Practices And Business Performance Drivers,” created in collaboration with FlexPay, which is based on a survey of 200 executive decision-makers at companies that offer subscription-based services and products, found that 30% reported facing churn from losing customers to competitors’ services or products.