I hate pledge week on National Public Radio. It bothers me that the otherwise intelligent people who run the station believe that they can hold the station hostage while we "buy back" our right to listen. I mean... I 've got plenty of other things to do in the car. I can listen to "Waiting for Godiva" from the new band Sauce (more on this in a few weeks) or even, heaven forfend, switch to another non-commercial radio station. I need a pretty exceptional reason to listen to commercial radio (notice they put the word "commercial" before the word "radio")
Anyway, as much as I hate pledge week, I'm wondering if there's something to it.
The problem with the NPR model is that they don't have a way of discontinuing their broadcast to someone who doesn't pledge. In other words, there's no way to turn you off if you don't pay.
Online, we all know that banner ads are virtually worthless (and they sell for as little as a tenth of a penny per banner) and now the sites we use are upping the ante in order to make a living. They're working to interrupt us with pop-ups, pop-unders and various other distractions. Of course, they need to (and deserve to) make a profit, so more power to them.
The thing is, it's still not very profitable for them. They realize that they can't TOTALLY hold us hostage with various advertising come ons, or we'll switch to another site. In their perfect world, the media company would have no competition and we'd have to watch several full page ads (just like TV or radio) before we could get back to our regular programming.
It's not, however, a perfect world, and as a result, the media companies make little or nothing on every single visit we make to their sites...but we, the users, are annoyed nonetheless.
So, what if, what if, just maybe, we learned a quick lesson from NPR... but without the free rider problem.
Slashdot.org is now offering a service where you get no ads for about $5 a month.
Yahoo sees more than a 100 million users a month. Can you imagine how profitable they'd be if we all just paid them $5 and never again had to see the Classmates ad? Never had to "close window" in order to get back to our e-mail...
I'd pay. Would you?