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Elon Musk is planning to hawk more subscription models to boost the revenue figures of X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. In a post, the X owner announced that the company is working on two additional tiers of X Premium, which started off as Twitter Blue and offers a bunch of exclusive features to paid users.
Two new tiers of X Premium subscriptions launching soon.
One is lower cost with all features, but no reduction in ads, and the other is more expensive, but has no ads.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 20, 2023
Musk won’t say how soon we can expect these new subscription products, but he did offer a glimpse into the core premise. At the center of the plans are ads. Current X Premium subscribers get a handful of useful features like longer posts with media embeds and the ability to edit posts. But more importantly, it puts a price on the coveted blue verified badge and cuts the number of ads users see in half.
One of the upcoming tiers will be priced lower than X Premium, but it will only bundle the exclusive features without reducing the number of ads appearing in a person’s feed. Bloomberg recently reported that X was working on Basic, Standard, and Plus versions of X Premium. Next in line is possibly the “Plus” subscription tier that will offer a completely ad-free experience alongside all the other niceties that you get with the standard X Premium subscription. Looking over the industry, streaming companies like Disney and Netflix have recently started offering ad-free versions at a higher premium. On the other hand, Meta’s own verified program offers no such ad-related perk.
Welcome to Musk’s ad-verse
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Social media platforms have traditionally relied on ads as a key revenue source, so it’s surprising to see X skirt away from that model by hiding the no-ad convenience behind a paywall. For context, X Premium currently starts at $8 per month, so folks hoping to avoid ads in their entirety can expect to pay a higher fee than that.
X’s ad-free pivot is not entirely unexpected though. Ever since Musk over the reins after splurging $44 billion to buy the company, X saw a sharp decline in the number of advertising partners owing to his “free speech absolutist” approach. In the past year, X has been called out for the rise in toxic speech, blatant misinformation, and abusive content — all of which are obvious advertising kryptonite.
It, therefore, makes sense that Musk would want to create a revenue pipeline that doesn’t rely on ads and serves additional conveniences as the key selling points. But adding more subscription tiers isn’t the only monetization strategy on X’s immediate roadmap. The company is already testing a new program in the Philippines and New Zealand that imposes a fee of $1 per year on all new accounts.
Musk reasons that it’s the platform’s way of controlling the bot problem. For users that don’t pay, their account will be relegated to a read-only mode, which means they won’t be able to post, nor will they be able to interact with any other post on the platform except viewing it.