DRIVE+

Pininfarina_

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...The problem is, the dollars never really have rolled in and the revenue share with YouTube itself allows us to retain just 55 per cent of earnings.
So it doesn't take a rocket scientist to work out that we need other revenue streams, one of which is a subscription service for longer-form videos.

What are your thoughts on this? I for one will pay for the subscription in the near future simply because I love their work Chris Harris.

However, in this day and age, is this really a good idea? Looking at their recent ratings and general feedback on youtube, the venture (as expected) has been received poorly.

Now is this a short term setback and predicted to blow over after awhile? Or will their numbers not improve due to lack of subscriptions and decreased views?

What alternatives could they have considered before such a drastic move?
 

Viper007Bond

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Sucks but understandable. Quality content costs money to make.
 

Dino

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I can certainly understand why they are doing it, but it's not gonna work.

1. They are totally screwing over their fanbase, which is the only real worth of a youtube channel. You just can't do that on youtube.
2. Only a very, very small percentage of current viewers will pay actual money for their entertainment, rather than letting themselves be bombarded by advertising.
3. The only point of the normal Drive channel now is advertising for Drive+.
4. If the videos on the normal Drive channel will stay short and lackluster, the channel is going to die, with that Drive+ is going to die.

Looks to me like a project where expected numbers weren't met and these are efforts to avoid the eventual end. Very sad, their material was excellent.
 
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M3lover

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I have subscribed, but judging from the viewcounts of the first few Drive+ videos it seems the concept hasn't been a succes.

The first few real /Drive+ segments have had 6-13K views so I'm guessing about 10000 people or 1 % of the regular /Drive subscribers have subscribed at best. I'm willing to bet that they were shooting for 10 %. At the same time the viewcounts of the regular /Drive videos seem to have fallen considerably.

So Dins #2 and in part #4 seem to be true.

I do comfort myself with the fact that Chris most likely won't have a problem getting a job at some of the regular motoring outlets if /Drive goes belly up.
 

Jupix

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It's a braindead solution to a problem that they should've solved by other means ages ago.

Let me quote my comments to the announcement video.

It's a pretty simple choice too: we either succeed in persuading a certain percentage of viewers that our content is worth some loose change every month. Or we don't, and we stop making films.
How about you take the third option and go back to making cheaper videos. You'll still get your ?2.50 per 1k views.?

To elaborate on that, Chris Harris said that at worst they've spent 9 grand to shoot one video. A million views nets them 2,5 grand in ad revenue. Meanwhile, IMHO the "production value" has only made /DRIVE worse. It's the Top Gear effect. They spend their money on slowmo and air footage, epic music and so on, while shooting astronomically expensive cars (read: cars irrelevant to most watchers) in exotic locations. It's showy and entertaining to some, but to me, Top Gear already exists if I want that crap, and I don't. The meat of /DRIVE was in the cheap stuff, like the M550d or whatever that Chris Harris drove for a day and made a really fun (and human) video about it. Similarly, Tuned and Big Muscle started out great and low production value, and got worse as they spent more money. The shows drift further from their roots the more money they spend, and the original "spark" is lost.

What I'm trying to say is that I would prefer they spend half a grand making a 500k hit video that nets a grand in ad revenue, than spend 9 grand making a showy video that they need an absolute subscription model to support.

It's not only that:

I'd like to add that I'd gladly pay like 10 eurocents per /DRIVE video of my choice in a store like iTunes. That would amount to roughly your blanket yearly sub cost, assuming 1 video per day. But I won't pay the full and pretty expensive blanket subscription that gets me 1 video that I care about, for every 5 videos that I don't. So to get money from me directly you'll have to expand your business model a little.?

I didn't, and don't, foresee many people opening their wallets for a maximum of 15-20 minutes of content 5 days a week. The value proposition is just bad. 36 euros a year will actually buy real things, like 4 games on Steam, which can net a lot more than 80 hours of entertainment over a year.

Furthermore, there's the problem that I described about blanket subscriptions. To make a game analogy again, I don't buy publisher packs from Steam. Usually 95% of the stuff in there is irrelevant to me. I also don't buy Humble Bundles for the same reason. In the case of /DRIVE+, I wouldn't be paying 36 euros a year for all of their stuff, I'd be paying it for Chris Harris, Tuned, Big Muscle, and maybe some currently unknown interesting content in the future. That takes it even further into the "terrible value" range.

Like I said there, I'd gladly pay a micropayment for a specific episode, which I know I find interesting and would probably enjoy. Just like a pay for a game that I find interesting.

If they insist on making their stuff a product with a price, I wish they at least had the decency of giving me the choice of what to pay for. And not in the traditional way of overpricing individual episodes either. That's where the "old media" companies have failed so far - multiple euros per episode are not micropayments. I'll pay the correct fraction of the subscription cost, plus some reasonable transaction cost. That's all you're getting. But I think it would be better for them than not getting anything, which is the current situation.

As for how many other people feel this way, there's no hard data. Obviously they're getting 1-2 % of the views they were previously getting. But views aren't their revenue source any more, so it's irrelevant. It's sub numbers and that information is not public (hi!).

I can only speculate on the like/dislike ratio of the announcement and the amount of views there. It's at ~80k views now, which I assume is the size their hardcore audience (the ones who would consider floating the channel with their wallets instead of just stumbling on videos). Initially, the like ratio for the announcement hovered at 17% or thereabouts. Now, a week later it's at 13,8 %. If we assume optimistically that everyone who liked the announcement, subscribed, they got 11k subs. So 33 000 eur in revenue per month. Assuming three major shows per season, that leaves them less than 3 grand per episode in production funding. So no, I don't think that's what they wanted.

Lastly, /DRIVE has catastrophic problems with PR and crowd handling. Just the way they handle their season breaks is appalling. They just stop transmitting and start radio silence in social media. That is ridiculous for a "new media" outlet. They had this problem in 2013, and now again in 2014. People rummage through their Youtube, Facebook and Twitter and wonder in the comments why there is no content and no word about anything. Every time there's a season break, a part of their audience assumes that the channel has gone bust and leaves. Worse, they make their production-related decisions (like this one) without any audience involvement.

I've already said my goodbyes to /DRIVE. The price is low but the attraction is even lower. My problem is that I can already see what happened to /DRIVE happening to Roadkill. Also, I can see the same thing happening to other channels funded by the Youtube content kickoff program. If the braindead monetization schemes and blanket subscriptions become the norm for the other channels as well, I as a consumer will have major problems with Youtube going forward.
 

bone

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no way in hell i'm every paying for a subscription

allow pay per view with paypal, and i might pay 1 or 2? for the vids i want to see...

and i agree about the cheaper vids, the one i enjoyed the most of all, was his 2CV review, and he probably did it on his own, 5 miles from his house, on a saterday afternoon, without any editing afterwards...
 
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TC

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/Drive are free to do whatever they want, I'm not going to pretend to be entitled to their videos. But at the same time they're not entitled to my cash, unless they offer me something worthy of it. I've always liked /Drive's content, but with so many other sources of entertainment, including others that I'm already paying monthly charges for, I can easily do without /Drive. And sadly the chopped down 3 minute advertisement videos they post for free are not worth the time to watch, so I'm also unsubscribing from /Drive completely.
 

ahpadt

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What can you buy for what the monthly subscription fee costs? Not much.
 

GraemeH

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I shoot and edit a weekly review show and our channel has YouTube partnership status. We're not on the scale of drive (few million views, 30-40k subscribers), but multiplying our revenue up proportionally to their subs/views, I did always wonder how they managed to travel and shoot what they do for that.
I guess they don't.
Sucks, they had good content, but that's part of the problem; their channel was always an in-between freak. Not enough for TV. Too good for the internet. They fall between two business models.
 

Matt2000

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Not enough for TV. Too good for the internet. They fall between two business models.

I worry about how long Roadkill will keep going for the same reason. Maybe the simple fact that it's just once a month makes it viable.
 

thomas

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If you subscribed to /DRIVE+ for a full year, you should have this email in your inbox.
We elected to turn off year-long subscriptions because we are having discovering problems with accounts and access that we didn't expect. YouTube is learning as much from this as we are, but the bottom line is that we'd been gone long enough and we had to get back on the figurative air waves. We launched, and began encountering situations that we didn't expect, and that can't be fixed overnight. (We know how long coding takes, and we respect it.)
So, because we're going take things a month at a time, we want you to do the same. With our new perspective on the system we don't feel right having you commit for 12 months to a platform that we're still experimenting with.
We're going to get this solved. We're looking at other options, including Vimeo and other providers, sleeping little and working fast.
We wished we'd been able to foresee all these electronic situations, but like any new frontier, we're running into hiccups and challenges. The first cave man to make fire didn't get it right the first time. No one hears about when he spent 3 hours rubbing rocks together.
We hope you'll bear with us, and keep trucking along next to our computational limp.
You can read more about the reasons why at the link below, and please don't hesitate to ask any question. Our /DRIVE robot is ready to answer you, although he gets a little loopy around 4AM.
Thank you,
/DRIVE
 

Jupix

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More interesting data from Matt Farah over at Reddit.

I love chris, but he did a shit job using that F40 video as an example, because it was shockingly expensive. I have never, ever, in my entire life, made a video that cost anywhere near that much to shoot (ok maybe an episode of a TV show, or the Monaco Special, but that's it). That's approximately five times the budget of a standard episode of anything I shoot.

According to him an average episode of Tuned costs ?1800 or 2250EUR. Admittedly they can easily fit that within the budget I speculated above and have money left over to spend on special, super-expensive episodes. Or more money for an expensive series, which Chris Harris is turning out to be.

Doesn't change the fact, though, that spending so much money on their videos is dumb. It doesn't seem sustainable long term and it seems to make the content worse.

I might actually post a cutdown version of my post over at that thread and try to get Matt's reaction.
 

Dr_Grip

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Well, Road Kill being a part of the Hot Rod magazine has an actual print-medium behind it. So I'd say its a different story there. But they may face a similar issue but with the analog media going down.
Yep. Roadkill's main purpose is to advertise Hot Rod mag, it's part of Motor Trend's social media strategy. If it generates enough subscriptions and does not cost more to make than traditional advertising, it'll stay.
Additionally, Roadkill got themselves a sponsorship deal with Diesel (as comedians in cars etc etc have with Acura), that'll help to keep cost in check as well.
 

Jens

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I signed up because I like their content very much. In turn I expect more content of the same level and if the Drive team is able to deliver on their promise, I'll have no problem paying a small fee each month. At the same time though I wouldn't want all of my 15 subscriptions on YouTube to start charging a monthly fee for the content they upload, however great their videos may be. So I'm a bit torn on this one.

Being active in the online and creative sector myself I can relate to Drive's internal dilemma. Delivering the level of content you personally want to make while paying for the employees and equipment needed to make it happen at a price the customer wants to pay for it is a very tough balancing act. So for now I'll give Drive+ the benefit of the doubt. I sincerely hope that when the subscription model turns out worse than they thought they will be clever enough to explore other options to let the channel survive and its user base content.
 
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_HighVoltage_

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Too early to tell, I think. There was monumental outrage years ago when Netflix switched from $7.99 per month for streaming and unlimited DVDs to $7.99+$7.99 if you wanted both. They lost a lot of customers in the beginning, but now they are back on top.

This might work, we'll just have to wait and see.
 

Mitchi

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Just read this comment on YouTube

Hey Drive, what's to stop me creating a new youtube account every month or so, signing up for your free trial, and catching up on your videos, then deleting the account? ?
 

Dr_Grip

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First of all, I think people who not only resort to tricks to get the content they want from a small independent publisher (which is different than pirating major studio movies, I think) but also brag about how smart they are and how stupid subscription models are go to the special hell.

Second, the loudmouth idiot quoted obviously underestimates google's capabilities in identifying an individual.
 

Mitchi

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Yeah that's what I thought and actually expect aswell. Even though YouTubes payment thingy is work in progress, they will be smart enough to limit the chances of a possible multi-account use drastically.
 

Pininfarina_

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So general consensus is DRIVE+ will most likely go belly up; in that case, where would Harris go? Not many automotive review shows where he could immediately become the main presenter (which is why so many people loved DRIVE to begin with)
 
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