Rivals Banks on Subscription Plan

While many content sites are suffering under sagging ad rates, Rivals.com, a network of sports team and affinity channels, has found some success in augmenting their revenue through a premium subscription plan.

The Seattle-based company has signed up more than 20,000 paid subscribers to its Premium Plus content program, which it launched last December.

With ad revenues down across almost the entire online industry, Rival’s Premium Plus content program has generated much needed supplementary revenue, totaling more than $441,000.

While it still too early for executives at Rivals to predict how much of a role subscriptions will play in their overall business plan, they are excited about the possibilities this new revenue stream holds.

“It’s too early to say exactly how far this will go,” said David Eckoff, Senior Vice President, General Manager of Rivals.com. “We are very enthused about the results today and believe that it is going to be a very important part of the business.”

While Wall Street Journal has been charging for online subscriptions for some time now, it is still a rarity to come across charges for online content, causing some to remain skeptical about this models viability.

Although Eckoff has encountered many voicing these concerns, he feels that Rival.com’s specialized content has enough draw to warrant the subscription fee.

“We believe that the type of content we have, and that our site publishers produce, is so original, unique and proprietary, and their readers are so passionate about it… that it works really well under this model,” says the Senior VP.

While the amount of content the premium service provides is relatively minor when compared with the free site, Eckoff believes that the value it provides makes the price worthwhile to the dedicated sports fan.

Premium Plus “is in-depth information above and beyond Rival.com’s already stellar content,” said Eckoff. “You can still get a tremendous amount of information that’s great for free and for sports fans who demand highly detailed, in-depth coverage, there’s another tier level, and that’s what they subscribe to.”

Michael Chiat is managing editor of seattle.internet.com.

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