More platforms, more money?

Platformer’s Casey Newton, in his excellent analysis of the upcoming Twitter feature called Super Follows, wonders what would be the main reasons newsrooms wouldn’t want reporters to use the feature for themselves:

Perhaps most worryingly, though, they create a leaky funnel of talent: if a publication’s top stars all begin making significantly more via Twitter than they do from their salaries, what’s to keep them working for the publisher at all?

This is an interesting thought, but it implies that readers are willing to pay for more content, and ready to give more money each month to content creators instead of media brands. This, of course, is possible, and I think this is where we are slowly going.

But I don’t see subscribers super follow a journalist working at a publication and keep subscribing to that same publication. They may subscribe to a few journalists instead, but they would also get a lot less content for the same amount of money compare to what the publication offers. Some readers will happily spend more, but some won’t.

Some readers may just stop subscribing to the publication and give their money directly to the journalists instead. The direct competition for publishers would not then only come from other media companies, it would come from within the newsroom itself. This could become an issue.

If a publication is free and ad-supported, maybe a few of its readers would be happy to super follow one or two content producers from this publication, but that requires extra money from those readers, and monthly subscription budgets are not going to grow forever.

It’s good to see more competition for platforms such as Google and Facebook. It’s good to see companies like Substack, Patreon, and now Twitter offering new ways for content creators to make money.

More independent content creators and journalists can also mean less concentration of talents in magazines, TV channels, newsrooms, etc. For the end-user, it can mean cheaper subscriptions, but many more of them than before. Now the question is: What is the subscription budget limit?