Will a lower price help the Minneapolis Star Tribune achieve success with a premium sports concept that didn’t work seven years ago? The paper pulled the plug on the pay concept for Access Vikings seven years ago, leaving the name in place but not the pay wall. Earlier this month, with the decibels rising on the business-model conversation, the paper said it would try it again. Now, with the NFL season heading into its third week, it’s adding some detail: Access Vikings Premium detailed here, will run $5.95 for three months (not quite a whole season) or $19.95 a year. No micropay, at least for now, and no day pass.
Put in fan perspective, the three-month pass is less than one beer at an NFL stadium; the annual subscription would be two or three beers. That’s compared to $4.95 a month, $19.95 for six months or $29.95 a year for the Purple Plus premium that brought in roughly 1,000 subs in 2002. David Brauer at Minnpost.com isn’t sure that’s low enough; I think it’s low enough for a serious fan — not even a total fanatic — or a Brett Favre camp follower, but I’m not sure the access and exclusivity StarTribune.com is offering rates it. Maybe some other Vikings watchers can weigh in here.
On a related topic, looking for some answers about the Vikings package, I stumbled into the Strib’s registration system, where a few things caught my attention:
— “Fast and FREE” registration is required to comment, share photos, enter contests, or personalize the StarTribune.com homepage. The info is fairly minimal: e-mail address, zip code, gender, birthdate.
— But in addition to the info, registrants have to accept the site’s e-mailed FYI Newsletter and FYI Offers. The offers can be customized, it looks like, but choosing from various categories. [By this point I would be pulling back.] Then they can pick from nearly two dozen e-mails; thoughtfully, three have been pre-checked — AM and PM Updates, Deals+Steals/Thrifty advice — meaning registrants have to uncheck them if they don’t the daily updates. Others range from zoned news to the Pet Central Newsletter. When I dug a little deeper, I found that I could delete the FYI Newsletter and FYI Offers but only from my member profile after registering.
— Registering covers StarTribune.com, buzz.mn, and vita.mn but not Jobs, MyCast and some other things. I can’t tell if I’d need a separate registration for the Access Vikings Premium.
Why does any of this matter? Day in, day out, we’re writing here about the ways news outlets are trying to get users to pay for content and registration is key in nearly every one. If it isn’t global, easy or transparent, the content had better be really good and the price better be right because the pool of people willing to complete the process — let along enter payment info — will get smaller and smaller along the way.