Monthly Subscriber

I blogged once about sacrificing a day of your salary in order to relocate it elsewhere for the necessity of another person. I also blogged once about the amazing potential in the community of gamers — especially those that play World of Warcraft. Now I think I’ve dreamed up the beginnings of an entrepreneurial endeavor, one that I hope will be developed by someone.

There has been a ridiculous outcry over the new Netflix subscription plans. The plans go into effect for new subscriptions, but current subscribers will have until September 1 to change to one of the following plans (they are sold separately):

  • $7.99/$11.99 for 1 physical DVD rental per month/2 physical DVD rentals per month
  • $7.99 for unlimited online streaming

Netflix is expecting a decrease in revenue this quarter as they are keenly aware that many of their subscribers are upset over the price hike. Previously, Netflix raised their subscription from $7.99 to $9.99 in November 2010, but they included DVD rentals along with their unlimited online streaming service.

This is what I am thinking. Why don’t consumer subscription-based services, whether built-in and non-negotiable or by user preference, charge an additional $.50 or $1.00? Use that surplus and reallocate it into a non-profit or fund a research program. With “24 million Netflix subscribers in the U.S. alone,” we would be seeing between $12 million and $24 million go into non-profits or research programs a month — and this is only in the United States (Huffington Post).

People are upset over an increase in prices per month, but I am venturing a guess that $.50-$1.00 is a fee that many American Netflix subscribers could incur and still live within their financial limits. We should begin to see that we can start cutting off a little from the bottom line of our pockets, that we don’t need all of the money we are saving up. This is the collective financial power of a monthly subscription.

Let’s take a look at another popular subscription service: World of Warcraft. This massive online entertainment platform has been taking gamers captive since November 2004 with the number of subscriptions seeming to have plateaued at about 12 million in December 2008 (Kotaku). Subscription plans for World of Warcraft come in three fashions (with a separate non-contract option):

  • $14.99 for a month-to-month subscription
  • $13.99 for a 3-month commitment
  • $12.99 for a 6-month commitment
  • $29.99 for a 2-month game card

Now, I must admit that these numbers aren’t quite as staggering as Netflix’s consumer base. In fact, for some odd reason, I was expecting World of Warcraft to possess the larger consumer base, knowing that the game carries a global appeal. Nonetheless, WoW gamers pay either $15, $40, $80, or $30 any given month in order to access this service. At a minimum and with a $.50 or $1.00 surcharge, World of Warcraft would be able to reallocate $12 million to $24 million to non-profits or research programs a year. If all 12 million subscribers paid monthly, resources would amount up to $6 million to $12 million a month, accumulating in $72 million to $144 million a year.

Besides Netflix and World of Warcraft, there are scores of other monthly subscriptions. People have memberships and subscriptions to gyms and clubs, magazines, internet service providers, cell phone providers, and other video games (I hesitate to include subscriptions to pornography solely for the dilemma as to whether people should be subscribing to pornographic content). If each of these monthly subscriptions followed suit and charged subscribers an extra $.50 or $1.00, I’m sure we’d crawl closer to seeing nearly billions of dollars going into humanitarian projects and research a month.

So what is the next step? How can we make this idea a reality? I plan to do some more research to learn whether this idea (or a similar one) has been attempted in the past. If a movement already exists, I plan to join that movement. If one does not exist, we should start to bring this idea out into popular thought. I encourage those interested to do the same and to collaborate with me and others.

Monthly subscribers can change the world.

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