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TechCrunch Cuts Subscription Program as Consumers Cancel Media Memberships

woman deciding to cancel subscription

Amid ongoing financial pressures, consumers are making difficult decisions about which subscriptions provide enough value to keep and which to cancel, and against this backdrop, TechCrunch has found its subscription business too costly to maintain.

According to an internal memo Monday (Jan. 29) viewed by ADWEEK, the Yahoo-owned startup and technology publication is cutting around eight staff members and shutting down its TechCrunch+ program. It seems the subscription, which offered exclusive access to content, advice and analysis, ad-free reading and discounts on events, was too costly to maintain.

“We’ll be sunsetting the TechCrunch+ subscription product in the coming weeks and will refocus our talented writers and editors on strengthening our core product,” Editor in Chief Connie Loizos reportedly wrote in the memo. “Building around two businesses hasn’t allowed us to focus where we can win.”

TechCrunch did not respond to PYMNTS’ request for comment.

The subscription cost consumers $15 per month or $99 per year — a price that may have proven too steep for many. Indeed, consumers hit unsubscribe when subscriptions become too costly. The study “Subscription Commerce Readiness Report: Bridging the Gap Between Subscription Conversion and Retention,” a PYMNTS Intelligence and sticky.io collaboration, which drew from a survey of more than 2,200 U.S. consumers, revealed that 56% of consumers cited it as the reason for canceling a subscription in the past year.

In a 2023 conversation with PYMNTS’ Karen Webster for the J.P. Morgan Payments Series: Global Innovators in Payments, sticky.io CEO Brian Bogosian spoke to consumers’ evolving expectations of their subscriptions.

“The bar continues to get higher,” he said. “People’s budgets are getting squeezed. People aren’t spending money frivolously. If they don’t get value, if they don’t get flexibility, if they don’t get incentives to continue, they’ll drop off.”

Plus, PYMNTS Intelligence research finds that consumers tend not to prioritize their media subscriptions when their budgets come under pressure. The report “The One-Stop Bill Pay Playbook: Drivers of Consumers’ Bill Payment Priorities,” a PYMNTS Intelligence and Mastercard collaboration based on responses from more than 2,100 U.S. consumers, revealed that only 22% would prioritize paying their digital media subscription bills in full above others. Meanwhile, 20% would skip payment on their digital media bills until they could afford it, 20% would only pay a portion of the bill, and a much greater 38% would cancel the service.

Indeed, for subscriptions to make the cut, they must provide consumers with a lot of value.

“Be customer-centric about offerings,” Vindicia Chief Revenue Officer Jack Bullock noted in the “Subscription Commerce Tracker®,” a PYMNTS and Vindicia collaboration. “Notice what customers are loving and hating about your product. Home in on what customers are loving and emphasize that (take those messages to market when marketing your subscriptions).”

TechCrunch’s decision to discontinue its TechCrunch+ program reflects the challenging balancing act companies face in providing value while managing costs. The competitive nature of the subscription market demands constant adaptation to evolving consumer expectations and economic realities. The end of TechCrunch+ serves as a reminder that sustained success in this arena hinges on consistently delivering substantial value to consumers, a lesson echoed by industry leaders and research alike.