Interesting Independent Internet Projects: Subbable

Photo+courtesy+of+Subbable.

Photo courtesy of Subbable.

Photo courtesy of Subbable.
Photo courtesy of Subbable.

By Claire Frank

One of the most frustrating parts about YouTube is the advertisements at the beginning of the videos. Some can be skipped after five seconds; others cannot. Either way, no one wants to sit through them. Advertisements cause viewers to click away from videos and feel like the creators are selling out, yet many YouTube channels are forced to include them as a way to cover the costs of production. Videos with the highest views recieve the most funding from advertisers, causing quantity to be favored over quality. There is, however, an alternative solution: Subbable.

Subbable is an independent subscription service that offers an alternative to advertisements by allowing viewers to provide their support to the creators whose content they enjoy. It was originally a way to support educational channels like Crash Course and MinutePhysics, but it also includes comedy channels and others, including a woodworking video series. Currently in beta, Subbable only features nine YouTube channels; however, other channels are lined up to join.

Subbable uses a pledge system as a way to provide funding for channels that have loyal fan-bases but may not upload content that consistently gets the highest views. While many of these quality channels may receive Google funding and grants, that money eventually runs out.

Creators on Subbable estimate how much funding they need to keep producing videos and create a monthly goal. That’s where the pledges come in.

The system is similar to Kickstarter; subscribers pledge a certain amount of money to help support the channel, and in return, they receive perks. The perks differ depending on the channel, and they range from certificates to posters to having a studio named after you.

Unlike Kickstarter and other crowdfunding models, Subbable operates on monthly support. Creators are able to budget money and plan ahead since they can count on stable funding to support their long-term projects. Pledges, however, do not have to be paid monthly; they can be paid all at once.

Subscribers pick how much they wish to pledge, the average pledge being five dollars a month. Subbable, however, doesn’t require subscribers to pledge any money to use their service. Perks serve as a motivator for fans to fund their favorite channels.

A nice feature about subscribing through Subbable is that pledgers can directly access the videos uploaded by the channels on the website. YouTube is constantly changing its interface, which makes it difficult and confusing to find the subscription page that often includes featured videos from channels not being subscribed to. The best part? Since the channels on Subbable are funded through pledges, there are no advertisements at the beginning of the videos. Ever.

As an alternative to advertising, Subbable could revolutionize the YouTube community. If it works. The concept is very idealistic, and several factors could stop it in its tracks. Subbable is currently surviving on the support of a small group of extremely loyal fans. That’s fine for now; it’s an up-and-coming service that only supports a few channels.

But is it going to work as it expands?

As Subbable integrates more channels, the number of subscribers must expand significantly. If it doesn’t, the pool of the money available will quickly be spread thin and none of the channels will receive enough funding.

Subbable is a great idea and it would be wonderful if it works, but it has much to prove before it can be deemed a successful idea.

Subbable