The news for fans of The Drive Network this week was one of mixed emotion. Many seemed to be rather pissed that their slice of automotive heaven is changing and simply wont be the same anymore. The pay for play model has come be and for many it has or may signal the end of the innocence or the beginning of tyranny from the smite-full overlords.
Do you remember seeing this just a few weeks ago however...
The first of a few wide spread mentions that Drive would be airing content on NBC Sports Network. We were so excited, weren't we? It coincided with NBC winning the broadcast rights to F1 in America.
Instant legitimacy brought to the Drive Network, at least in the eyes of the misinformed or uneducated. Fans like me had always known they were legit and brought some of the best car content to the game from anywhere. But the average Joe now new the name and had access to the wonderful world of the Drive Network.
That unfortunately was not what I thought that day however. Mt first thought was that the Drive Network as I knew it was over and about to change: the free and easy days of the YouTube experiment were over!
Having worked in the media world I knew it wouldn't last and the model YouTube has set up would eventually fail. Fail may be to harsh and not totally correct but you may feel that.
The YouTube model is basically the old television model we have had for decades that was solely supported through advertising. It is quite clear that if given the choice, people would rather skip the ads and just carry on through the content uninterrupted.
In the YouTube age, advertising alone is not enough. If you watched the Drive Network evolve over the past few years you've heard the comments on how they are constantly up against 'it' when it comes to budget and were always looking to bolster the bottom line.
Their intent always seemed to be about making more and better content and that was great but profit for them, you know, putting food on the table and a roof overhead is important too. I want them to make good money and they deserve to, there's nothing wrong with that.
So when this appeared:
I wasn't upset, I just knew that the original ways of doing business were over.
So this week we have a new subscription service for $3.99/month or $40.00/year. I mentioned earlier the old advertising only TV model: so what model do we have today? Well we are at the beginning of the 'a la Carte' age.
You and I have been asking for decades why we have to pay for channels on our cable bill in the dozens, if not hundreds of channels we never watch and don't want. The internet has made the 'a la Carte' model totally possible. Only get what you want and pay for only what you want. A special shout out to the 'cord cutters' the first group of people who have pushed this agenda forward.
Now this all sounds great and it may very well be but, I'm willing to bet that your cable bill will be higher even with less channels in the future. The grass always looks greener on the other side until you get there.
So what we have now is 3 separate ways to view Drive Network content. Free, but less content on the existing YouTube channel, NBC Sports and the new Drive Network Plus site, again on YouTube.
At $4/month or $40/year it really isn't so bad and it's the new model we will all live by in the not to distant future. The Drive Network as it existed and was born was just the first step and you may argue even early in the adaptation of the "TV" viewing habits and system of a new generation.
I for one hope the price can be adjusted, brought down, over time with popularity but at $40/year for the already great content and a promise of new and more is good enough for me and I encourage all of you to do the same.
The future of specialty and enthusiasts content is now in our hands, don't blow it!