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AUTOSPORT.com - live coverage of first F1 test in Valencia


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#1 JimFosterAutosport

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Posted 27 January 2011 - 18:39

Hi guys

I thought I would write a post to explain how AUTOSPORT.com is covering the first pre-season F1 test in Valencia next week (starting on the 1st, as you know).

We are going to experiment by putting the live text commentary of this first test - and this test only - in AUTOSPORT.com PLUS. In other words, the live commentary will be behind the paywall for PLUS subscribers only to view (print magazine subscribers will also be able to access it using their digital accounts, which come as part of their subscription deal).

If non-subscribers would like to follow our live text commentary, it will cost around £2 (price to be decided) to do so. To give good value for money, that fee will also include access to all the premium content on PLUS for the month of February.

Payment can either be made via PayPal - which will be a one-off payment - or by taking out a monthly, auto-renew subscription to PLUS using a credit card, with the first month costing around £2 before the price reverts to the current rate of £5.50 per month in March. This auto-renew option can be cancelled at any time by emailing us.

Any F1 news stories that come to light during testing will of course be published on the free part of the site, as per usual.

So, why are we taking this step?

We're doing it because we need to grow our paid-for content revenues, in order to develop and grow the paid-for content part of the site (and indeed, the site in general).

I think that this kind of strategic move will become more and more prevalent in online publishing in the future, as publishers look at ways to successfully monetise online content. In the meantime, if anyone has any questions on this, please feel free to message me privately, or below. I will endeavour to answer all private messages, though if I get a lot you might have to be a bit patient before I get round to you!

Thank you for your support

Best wishes

Jim



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#2 sidepodcast

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Posted 27 January 2011 - 19:16

+1 for doing this.

i'd sooner you put it behind a paywall than stopped it altogether. so far as i know, autosport live will be the only dedicated english text feed and will thus be essential. also adds more value to a plus membership which we seem to be getting less out of these days.

question though, what of the iphone app, will that work as normal or require a 'plus' login?

also, won't the twitter feed still be free to anyone?

spc

#3 Mat

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Posted 28 January 2011 - 01:35

Thanks for the info Jim - looking forward to it. You need to start monetizing this site more so understand having it behind the firewall. Hopefully it get's people to sign up.

#4 JimFosterAutosport

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Posted 28 January 2011 - 10:52

Hi Mat / SidePod

Thanks for the feedback.

First up - Twitter feeds. We are restricting how many our journos run, so as not to make the same info available that will be appearing on the live text commentary. Twitter shouldn't impinge on the quality of the commentary delivered: I don't want people paying to access our commentary only to find they could have got it for free somewhere else.

Besides, it's very tough to analyse anything F1 in any kind of depth via Twitter.

Moving on to the app - ah, a very good question and something we have thought quite hard about.

The way we've looked at it is that people have already paid for the app, so in this case the live commentary will be available for app users as an added value feature - they will not need to log in to PLUS to access it. So if anyone has the app but not a PLUS subscription, bear that in mind if you're thinking about signing up for PLUS on the basis that the commentary for the first test will be behind the paywall.

I would imagine though that in the near future, all live text commentaries will be placed behind the paywall and therefore won't be available on the basic app functions. But this is a decision we have yet to make.

I agree that we need to offer more value for money on PLUS. Putting all commentaries behind the paywall is one way we can do that. We have some plans that will develop the PLUS brand in due course also - making the packages on offer easier to understand, increasing the value, offering more editorial content. Hopefully during the course of the forthcoming season you'll all see that.

One last thing. Please remember that this time around, we are placing the first test commentary ONLY behind the paywall. It's a bit of an experiment. The remainder of the tests will be free, in front of the paywall.

This is why I have decided to add a month's access to PLUS as part of the one-off offer package, so users get value for money over and above the commentary from Valencia.

I think it's very important that we are open and up-front with all AUTOSPORT.com users. So if you have any more questions, please keep firing them at me; though I am out of the office for the afternoon so might not be able to get back to you til later this weekend.

All the best for now

Jim


#5 sidepodcast

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Posted 29 January 2011 - 03:08

Besides, it's very tough to analyse anything F1 in any kind of depth via Twitter.

should've been more clear. doesn't the live text spit out copies of the updates to @autosportlive? just wondering if that will be disabled.

I would imagine though that in the near future, all live text commentaries will be placed behind the paywall and therefore won't be available on the basic app functions. But this is a decision we have yet to make.

got ya, that makes sense. appreciate the reply.

#6 BigWicks

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Posted 30 January 2011 - 15:56

Genuine question, what makes you think you'll be able to justify putting live text commentaries behind paywalls, I'm struggling to think of any sports coverage provider who has done that (or if they have tried to do that, made it work). With twitter and the numerous f1 forums around I'm struggling big time to see why I would pay for this?

#7 Tuboscocca

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Posted 01 February 2011 - 08:18

WOULD BE GREAT--when it works!!Have tried (Tuesday 9.15 (German Time) NO NOTHING??

Regards Michael

#8 Tomecek

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Posted 01 February 2011 - 10:06

Agree with this step.

#9 D.M.N.

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Posted 01 February 2011 - 10:31

Disagree with the step. Is there anything extra we get with Autosport's Live text that we cannot get on any other free websites?

#10 dank

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Posted 01 February 2011 - 12:32

Disagree with the step. Is there anything extra we get with Autosport's Live text that we cannot get on any other free websites?


Name an equivalent. The BBC's offering is woeful in comparison.

#11 SchuOz

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Posted 01 February 2011 - 13:54

And will this pay thing, be the case during the season - for races etc?

#12 jonpollak

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Posted 01 February 2011 - 14:33

.......I agree that we need to offer more value for money on PLUS. Putting all commentaries behind the paywall is one way we can do that. We have some plans that will develop the PLUS brand in due course also - making the packages on offer easier to understand, increasing the value, offering more editorial content. Hopefully during the course of the forthcoming season you'll all see that.

One last thing. Please remember that this time around, we are placing the first test commentary ONLY behind the paywall. It's a bit of an experiment. The remainder of the tests will be free, in front of the paywall....

All the best for now

Jim


This may well destroy the Live page's chat.
At the moment there are around 4 posters in there.
Putting the LIVE thread behind the wall for races will force the Live Chat to the RC BB
...or so it appears at this time.
Jp


#13 Hacklerf

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Posted 01 February 2011 - 14:42

I tell you what i would love as a plus member, i would like to be able to download all the F1 images for a season/month/team something like that, just a way to have all the pictures in the 3 x size in an easy download, it takes me absolute ages to grab them atm

Edited by Hacklerf, 01 February 2011 - 14:42.


#14 JimFosterAutosport

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Posted 01 February 2011 - 14:53

Hi guys

Thanks for the debate, please keep it coming - it's all very interesting for us publishers.

Okay, let me answer a few of your questions.

Q1 Will race commentaries be behind the paywall?
A: We haven't decided yet. We'd like to monitor the success of placing the first test commentary behind the paywall and see how things pan out. If it's a success and we are able to give our PLUS subscribers more value for money, personally I would prefer to see our race text commentary go behind the paywall, too. Bear in mind that when you subscribe to it, you're getting access to PLUS as well. £1.99 in this instance is, therefore, pretty decent value when you take PLUS for a month into account.

Q2 Is there anything extra we get with Autosport's Live text that we cannot get on any other free websites?
A: I think that's for the consumer to judge. Personally, I would be confident in stating that our team of journalists on the ground in Valencia right now are the best attending the test. They will get the most comprehensive coverage, ahead of the BBC, F1 Fanatic etc. The likes of Edd Straw and Jonny Noble will have unrivalled paddock access and high-level team contacts, and therefore get titbits of information that no other media provider will attain. Of course, as I said, that's just my personal view!

Q3 Reference making it work... why can we when other media providers can't?
A: Good question. At some point in time, I think consumers are going to have to accept that most premium content online is going to have to be paid for. We're not the only publisher doing it - News International, the FT, even the Guardian are at it now (in their app). Don't forget also that your license fee helps pay for your F1 content on bbc.co.uk, so it's not as if that's totally free, either!

A publisher's job these days is more complicated than ever, with many different platforms to serve content on - from print through to desktop computers, tablet devices, iPhone and Android mobiles, and so on. As costs rise, so new revenue streams need to be sought to pay for it all and enable us to reinvest money in the brand to help grow and improve it further.

Which, of course, the consumer will benefit from.

I'm confident we can make it work on AUTOSPORT.com - but only time will tell! (And your feedback is invaluable in all of this, so as I said at the start of this reply, please keep that feedback coming. I like being as open and up front with our customers as I possibly can be without divulging business strategies that may benefit our rivals!)

Best wishes

Jim




#15 jonpollak

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Posted 01 February 2011 - 15:19

SO ..Jp translates, removing the Haymarketing speak.

Hi guys

Thanks for the debate, please keep it coming - it's all very interesting for us publishers.

Okay, let me answer a few of your questions.

Q1 Will race commentaries be behind the paywall? YES
A: We haven't decided yet. We'd like to monitor the success of placing the first test commentary behind the paywall and see how things pan out. If it's a success and we are able to give our PLUS subscribers more value for money, personally I would prefer to see our race text commentary go behind the paywall, too. Bear in mind that when you subscribe to it, you're getting access to PLUS as well. £1.99 in this instance is, therefore, pretty decent value when you take PLUS for a month into account.

Q2 Is there anything extra we get with Autosport's Live text that we cannot get on any other free websites? KIND OF
A: I think that's for the consumer to judge. Personally, I would be confident in stating that our team of journalists on the ground in Valencia right now are the best attending the test. They will get the most comprehensive coverage, ahead of the BBC, F1 Fanatic etc. The likes of Edd Straw and Jonny Noble will have unrivalled paddock access and high-level team contacts, and therefore get titbits of information that no other media provider will attain. Of course, as I said, that's just my personal view!

Q3 Reference making it work... why can we when other media providers can't? Rupert was right...PS...Subscribers are not all British and paying TV poll tax
A: Good question. At some point in time, I think consumers are going to have to accept that most premium content online is going to have to be paid for. We're not the only publisher doing it - News International, the FT, even the Guardian are at it now (in their app). Don't forget also that your license fee helps pay for your F1 content on bbc.co.uk, so it's not as if that's totally free, either!

A publisher's job these days is more complicated than ever, with many different platforms to serve content on - from print through to desktop computers, tablet devices, iPhone and Android mobiles, and so on. As costs rise, so new revenue streams need to be sought to pay for it all and enable us to reinvest money in the brand to help grow and improve it further.

Which, of course, the consumer will benefit from. We live in hope

I'm confident we can make it work on AUTOSPORT.com - but only time will tell! (And your feedback is invaluable in all of this, so as I said at the start of this reply, please keep that feedback coming. I like being as open and up front with our customers as I possibly can be without divulging business strategies that may benefit our rivals!)

Best wishes

Jim



#16 JimFosterAutosport

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Posted 01 February 2011 - 16:44

SO ..Jp translates, removing the Haymarketing speak.


Nice work, JP!

#17 Gilles4Ever

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Posted 01 February 2011 - 17:32

I must congratulate all involved in providing an excellent service. It was also a very pleasant bunch of people with decent discussion.

#18 jonpollak

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Posted 01 February 2011 - 18:04

Oh Gilles... you total suck up !!

Nice work, JP!

Jim:
Cheeky it was I know, but the implied sentiment may not echo my real feelings about the concept.

I have been a paying subscriber ever since bira did the deal to take us to Mickey Haseltine's Publishing Empire and feel it is important to support and pay for a product I believe in. I also really appreciate the desire to add more quality content for the paying subscribers.

If you are to truly stand out from the rest the only way is to offer content which is NOT available anywhere else. As has been noted by racing fans, since the proliferation of Internet websites covering our sport, the most enticing carrot to offer us is LIVE VIDEO. Seeing that FOM have a surgical stranglehold on the manna required the power of your publishing house should present to them an opportunity that they can really sink their teeth into. It will happen, as with the ineluctable offering of HD to the world's broadcasters, sooner rather than later.

"BUT WAIT" you say...What about the big money rights deals with the broadcasters that provide for the girls houses in Chelsea and what not?
Witness the Comcast take over of NBC Universal. It won't be long before the lines of content production vs distribution are blurred worldwide.

Please consider this in your quest to move forward. I feel it needs to be Autosport's main focus as they move ahead and were the geniuses you have at your disposal to come up with a plan that offers them as well as us long lasting benefits of this next step...Growth will soar for both.
But this is not a little step..It's the BIG LEAP.
I think you should GO FOR IT!!!

Good Luck Jim.

Jp

PS...Come to think of it I was paying for AOL simply because AUTOSPORT content was on there...When was that..? like '96 or something?

#19 Barry Scott

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Posted 02 February 2011 - 15:42

I have to say, the Autosport live service is miles better than any of the free offerings I've found so far. I wasn't sure it would be worth the money, but at the moment it has been. Keep it up! Not so sure I'd pay for text commentary of the races, as I can actually watch those on TV

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#20 sidepodcast

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Posted 02 February 2011 - 15:55

just a quick bit of feedback - there is no-one out there coming close to the autosport live text today. it's a fantastic service.

re: paywall over race weekends. assuming you can keep this level of quality up, then you should make this a paid service for every session. last year i got the impression a lot of the text updates were written by someone watching a tv at home (may not be true, just the impression). however, if you have people running around the paddock and digging up answers to readers questions, as you have today, then that's an unbeatable service. especially during something like a quiet free practice session.

whether or not, that amount of work would kill all your people on the ground before race #2 is another question, but you've all raised the bar very high in the past two days.

#21 TIFOlonSO

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Posted 02 February 2011 - 16:55

What a pity.
The interface was sort of very ok - compared for instance with classic chat at f1fanatic.
I suppose we still have chat available for racing comment but I suspect f1fanatic will be the place for us to move.

As for the Autosport commentary... well I doubt many read their posts at racing day - it would do wonders when we did not have live timing and twitter.
And for this tests we have several sites - Spanish and others - covering it live.

It's totally out of the question to pay for our own comments.



#22 Mat

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Posted 03 February 2011 - 03:56

I didn't follow all of the Autosport live commentary during the session, it was pretty late at night here, but what I did follow I thought was great. It was a top effort, and definitely a step forwards.

sidepodcoast summed it up pretty well. It would be fantastic to get that kind of service for race weekend practice sessions. I don't see any use for it during Qual or Race.





#23 milestone 11

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Posted 03 February 2011 - 11:51

Yep, have to agree, Autosport Live has been first class.

#24 jonpollak

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 19:11

Q1 Will race commentaries be behind the paywall?
A: We haven't decided yet.

Best wishes

Jim



Just so we all know where we stand before this season starts....
Have you decided yet?

Jp

#25 D.M.N.

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Posted 29 January 2012 - 11:20

Any update regarding pay-wall/no pay-wall for the 2012 season given that the testing live coverage should start a week on Tuesday?

Edited by D.M.N., 29 January 2012 - 11:20.


#26 JimFosterAutosport

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Posted 30 January 2012 - 14:43

Hi guys

Good to speak with you again a year on. Our strategy this year is slightly more simple - all three pre-season tests will be free to view (in front of the paywall). They will be sponsored.

Any other questions, please ask!

Best wishes and happy 2012 to you all

Jim

#27 jonpollak

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Posted 30 January 2012 - 21:33

They will be sponsored.


Nice work then...
Thanks Jim
Jp