TechCrunch’s New Subscription Model Highlights Trends For Online Publications

Photo: TechCrunch

In the midst of BuzzFeed layoffs and other media frenzies, TechCrunch has decided to launch its ad-free Extra Crunch membership which provides users with exclusive articles, event discounts and “unicorn deep dives” for $15 a month or $150 per year.

TechCrunch is one of the top places where I get my technology news, so the subscription-based content has piqued my interest. I am sure the service will be great for investors and aspiring entrepreneurs because the membership also provides readers with resources, recommendations and startup building fundamentals.

Other online tech publications would be able to successfully utilize a subscription-based model, but it seems that websites like Recode and The Verge are not yet ready to take the plunge. TechCrunch’s publishing frequency and niche content make it perfect for the model and its competitors are behind the curve.

According to its website, Extra Crunch will also have community features that include conference calls facilitated by writers and members-only experiences. The company plans to expand the features in the future.

TechCrunch’s latest move highlights some greater trends in the news industry. As layoffs become increasingly common, so will subscription-based news content. In February, Buzzfeed got rid of more than 2,200 of its writers across the country. By slashing 15 percent of its employees, Buzzfeed became one of many news organizations making major cuts to its staff.

Mic laid off its entire staff in November and set off a wave of anxiety for other publications that were on the chopping block. Earlier this month, Vice Media and McClatchey removed 250 and 450 jobs, respectively. Costs and audience numbers are squeezing the life out of many online publications, so it is only right that an outlet like TechCrunch monetizes its content.

As of now, the members-only articles are offered in addition to the regular content that is posted to TechCrunch; however, I would not be surprised if the company began to fully switch to a subscription-based model in a few years. TechCrunch’s biggest advantage is its audience, which is made up of investors, startup founders, venture capitalists and other individuals who are willing to pay to get more insight on how to build a successful company.

TechCrunch’s competitors Recode and The Verge should also consider offering members-only content. Although Recode and The Verge’s content is tailored to a slightly different audience, readers will be willing to purchase for deep diving articles and video if it is available.

TechCrunch’s expansion has been exciting to watch. As an avid reader of the website, my understanding of the startup world can largely be attributed to TechCrunch. Extra Crunch may be the feature that sets TechCrunch apart from its competitors and makes it the leading online tech publication.