[Editor’s Note: If you already know all about Uni Watch Plus and are ready to sign up for it, you can do that here. If you want more info about what UW+ is all about, this page is for you.]
Hello! Today I’m very excited to announce the details of our new Uni Watch Plus program, which is now up and running. Let’s take a few minutes to go over everything, shall we?
Uni Watch Plus, which I first mentioned when we launched the new site design about six weeks ago, is a voluntary paid program. People who sign up for it will receive the following benefits:
- You’ll be able to read the site without any ads.
- You’ll have access to a new Uni Watch discussion forum, available only to UW+ members.
- You’ll receive push notifications whenever a new blog post is published, so you won’t have to keep checking the site to see if you missed anything.
- When you post a comment on the blog, your comment will carry a special badge identifying you as a UW+ member, like this:
- You’ll receive a checkout code good for 20% off of all our Teespring merchandise. (This benefit is available only for a full-year UW+ sign-up, not for one month.)
Those are the benefits we have so far, but we expect to add others in the weeks and months to come. For example, I want to have a daily sidebar message calling out a different UW+ member each day (“Today’s content is brought to you in part by UW+ member John Doe,” or something like that), a possible “dark/BFBS mode” site option, and even a “throwback” site option based on the site’s old design. We also expect that there are other benefits we haven’t even thought of yet. (If you have ideas or requests, I’m all ears.)
You probably have lots of questions, so let’s shift into FAQ mode:
How much does UW+ cost?
One year for $25, or one month for $5.
So an annual Substack subscription costs $35 for one article a week, but Uni Watch Plus costs $25 for lots and lots of articles, plus additional benefits. In other words, UW+ costs less but provides more. How does that make sense?
There are several factors at work here. First, comparing the Premium Substack articles to the blog content is an apples/oranges situation, because the Premium articles are hard-paywalled, while you can keep reading blog content for free even without UW+. If we made the UW+ price point too high, lots of people would probably say, “Ah, screw it — I’ll deal with the ads, I’ll live without the discussion forum and other benefits.” So we tried to pick a price point that will be enticing.
Also, frankly, most of my Premium articles involve a lot more work than the typical blog article, in part because the Premium articles are longer and also because they tend to entail more research, preparation, and so on. I’m not saying that the blog content isn’t good or valuable — it is, of course. But the higher Premium price point reflects a lot of the work that goes into those articles.
The monthly UW+ price ($5) seems disproportionately high compared to the annual price ($25).
Our payment processor takes a big cut, so we make less from lots of little payments as opposed to one larger payment. (It’s sort of like how a mailing a letter costs 60¢ for the first ounce but only 24¢ for each additional ounce.) We’re basically trying to get people to sign up for a full year, not for a month. But if you prefer to go month-to-month, you can still do that.
I already subscribe to your Substack articles. Can I get the bundle discount applied to my UW+ price?
Unfortunately, we’re no longer offering that option. Sorry.
How will the push notifications work?
Once you sign up and log in to your UW+ account, you’ll see a pop-up on your browser asking you if you want to opt in for Uni Watch notifications. You’ve probably seen similar mechanisms on other websites.
How will the UW+ discussion forum differ from the comments already being posted on the blog?
The blog comments tend to be very post-specific, while the forum will allow you to bring up discussion topics that aren’t necessarily being addressed on the blog. Also, I won’t be hovering over the proceedings saying, “Actually…” or “Let’s move on,” so things will probably be more freewheeling. Also, I’m hoping the forum will provide a chance for Uni Watch comm-uni-ty members to bond, get to know each other a bit better, and so on. We even have a discussion category for people who want to set up local meetings with other Uni Watch readers.
Will the forum have moderators?
Yes. Two longtime Uni Watch readers — Josh Claywell and Christian Berumen — have stepped up to serve as moderators. (If need be, we’ll add more. If you’re interested, let me know.) Their job will be to make sure everyone maintains a respectful tone, so we expect the tenor of the discussion will be much better than it would be on, say, Facebook, where a couple of cranks and trolls can ruin the experience for everyone.
Why should I pay to participate in your forum when I can use the SportsLogos.net forums for free?
Just to be clear, paying for UW+ gets you other benefits besides forum access, so there’s that.
But in addition, I’d say there are real differences between Uni Watch and SL.n and their respective readerships, and I expect those differences will be reflected in our new forum. I’m not saying one site is better than the other (although of course I’m biased toward Uni Watch) — just that the sites and their surrounding cultures and vibes are distinct from each other, so I don’t think they’re necessarily duplicative or interchangeable.
That’s why I think our UW+ forum will have plenty of value for Uni Watch readers. That said, however, if you use the SL.n forums and find that they meet your uni-discussion needs, I totally understand that. Whatever works best for you.
Can you add a Uni Watch membership card as a UW+ benefit?
A lot of work goes into each membership card — they’re all custom-designed and then individually trimmed, laminated, and snail-mailed — so it just isn’t feasible to include them as an additional UW+ benefit. Sorry. But we’ll continue to offer them as a stand-alone product, distinct from UW+.
First you paywalled the Premium content, now you want us to pay for UW+. This is getting expensive! Next you’re gonna paywall the whole blog, right?
If I wanted to do that, I’d have done it already! Instead, I wanted to come up with a voluntary program with a lot of benefits, so people who have the means can support the site via UW+, while those who don’t have the means can continue to access the site for free.
As an aside: You may have noticed that I’ve de-emphasized Uni Watch merch this year — no more pins, no big T-shirt projects, etc. That’s definitely a conscious choice on my part. I’ve enjoyed all of those merch projects (and have particularly enjoyed collaborating with talented designers), but I’m a writer first and foremost, so I’m frankly much happier having people pay for my writing, not for all that stuff. That’s not to say we’ll never have any new merch items, but it’s more about where my priorities lie these days.
Moreover, as I’ve been saying for a while now, the model of free internet content supported by ad revenue is unsustainable (and in steep decline), so I’d rather move away from that model — not only for my own sake, but for the sake of all journalists. After all, you wouldn’t expect to get a Uni Watch T-shirt for free, right? So why would you expect to get all the articles for free?
All of that said, UW+ is voluntary. My hope, of course, is that lots of you will sign up for it, but that’s still your choice to make.
I get what you’re saying there. But if I combine UW+ and the Substack subscription, that means you’re charging a total of $60/year for Uni Watch. I can get a year’s worth of The Athletic for a lot less, and they have way more content than you have.
True enough. Thanks to the economies of a scale, a big operation like The Athletic (or The Washington Post, or any number of other big media operations) will always have more built-in efficiencies than a small niche operation like Uni Watch. It’s the same reason prices are lower at Walmart than at your local mom-and-pop store. But small operations have other attractive aspects that larger operations lack — just try finding content like ours on The Athletic! My hope is that you’ll see enough value in Uni Watch to help support it.
Meanwhile, here’s a fun fact: The Athletic has never turned a profit. Ever! It has been able to operate at a loss because the venture capitalists who bankrolled its creation work on the business model of funding lots and lots of projects under the assumption that most of them will fail (those become tax write-offs) and a few will succeed spectacularly (covering the losses from the failures). Obviously, Uni Watch doesn’t have the luxury of operating at a loss, which is why our subscription prices are more realistic than what The Athletic is currently charging. (Update: The Athletic, which had famously been ad-free since its inception, has now introduced what the editors amusingly refer to as a “new advertising experience.” What a surprise.)
Okay, I’m convinced. Where do I sign up?
You can sign up here. Thanks!