How Video Buoys Print & Digital Revenue for Model Railroader
Editor’s Note: The below video is excerpted from the webinar “Innovative Revenue Streams for Niche & Special Interest Publishers.”
Kalmbach Publishing’s flagship title Model Railroader boasts an incredibly loyal following, with a print circulation of 138,000, 1.4 million pageviews per month, and a 36% open rate on its weekly newsletter. But model railroad enthusiasts are an aging demographic, which has challenged the Kalmbach team to develop creative ways to grow revenue for this group. One new revenue stream Kalmbach has pursued is video. Editorial director Diane M. Bacha explained how the publisher launched a lucrative video subscription product in a Publishing Executive webinar titled, “Innovative Revenue Streams for Niche & Special Interest Publishers.”
When Model Railroader began converting it’s how-to content and product reviews into video eight years ago, subscribers could access video content without additional cost. “Those videos were meant to buttress the value of the subscription and were behind a subscriber wall,” explained Bacha. But by 2012 the brand had amassed over 500 videos, and Model Railroader saw an opportunity to monetize that content directly. “The goal was to up sell current subscribers,” said Bacha, “…and, you know, wouldn’t it be nice to capture new audience members? Perhaps they wouldn’t put money down for a print magazine subscription but we could get them to engage with our brand through video.”
With these objectives in mind, Kalmbach launched a paid video subscription product, Model Railroader Video Plus (MRVP), in the spring of 2013. The subscription service earned over 10,000 subscribers in the first 10 months, which Bacha said was ahead of the publisher’s expectations. A subscription to MRVP costs $4.95/month or $45.95 annually. And subscribers to Kalmbach’s multiple railroading brands can bundle MRVP with their magazine subscription for an additional $29.95 per year.
“Bundling has been very nice,” said Bacha “. . . We did add nearly 1,000 new magazine subscribers who weren’t apparently tempted to pay for a subscription before but when they saw this add-on video, they bit.” Bacha added that bundling video with the subscription paved the way for other bundling opportunities. Model Railroader now also sells subscription access to its digital content archive with its print subscriptions.
MRVP has also revealed additional revenue opportunities. A large portion of Model Railroader’s audience faced technological barriers to utilizing the video service. For these less tech-savvy subscribers, Model Railroader began selling DVDs of its video content a la carte. Bacha said that that has driven significant revenue for the group and that 65% of DVD purchasers do not subscribe to MRVP.
Watch the full webinar “Innovative Revenue Streams for Niche & Special Interest Publishers” to learn how Kalmbach applied lessons learned from launching MRVP to other brands and how enthusiast magazine Craft Beer & Brewing created and monetized an online learning platform for home brewers.