Score for Score

Dear Flo: An Open Letter to FloGymnastics

Dear Flo: An Open Letter to FloGymnastics

by Brina April 3, 2019

Dear Flo,

My name is Brina, and I really like gymnastics. I think a lot of people at FloGymnastics do too. I thought it might be helpful to write you a letter about why so many people who really like the same thing hate each other right now - and what you can do about it.

I understand that you're a private company that exists to make a profit. In fact, I actually think it's a good thing when private companies realize how many people out there love gymnastics. We usually end up getting more and more access to more and more things.

But you're doing a lot of things wrong.

  1. Don't grow your business by putting paywalls in front of things that used to be free.

    There isn't a ton of high-quality gymnastics coverage out there. You know that - that's why you're in this sector. That means there's lots of room to expand beyond the coverage the already exists. For example, I like what you're doing in Corvallis this year - allowing Pac12 to stream the main feed for free while making every single routine available for a fee on your site.

    But asking people to pay for things that used to be free is a losing strategy. Don't do it. A company should create value instead of capturing it from others.

  2. Consider more price discrimination.

    I'm sure you did lots of market research before settling on the magic numbers, $29.99/month and $149.88/year. That might be the exact right price for unlimited access to all the videos you've ever produced across a dozen sports.

    But lots of people out there want less than that. They just want to see one or two events for the one or two sports they care about. And most of those people aren't currently paying you $29.99/month or $149.88/year because they're so excited for those few events. They're currently paying you nothing.

    Try offering a gymnastics-only subscription for a lower price. Better yet, let fans pay for access to a single event. You might lose some revenue from subscriptions, but that would be more than offset by the gains from new customers paying for the new options.

  3. Cover gymnastics like a well-informed fan, not like a private company.

    Respect for the athletes and the fans has to come first. Among other things, that means not linking to underage nude pictures. Did you think I wasn't going to mention that?

    I'm sure you're a better company now, or at the very least you've realized that that sort of thing is bad for business in the #metoo era. But I think that whole episode reflects a broader pattern I've noticed in your decisions. You forget that athletes aren't just there to drive clicks. Meets don't just happen to lure in subscribers.

    It's worth thinking through your strategy for written content and social media: how would this be different if we weren't trying to make money? Right now, there's little reason for fans to turn to Flo for gymnastics coverage. Almost all the content is laser-focused on hyping the events that you have exclusive rights to cover - and everything else reads like clickbait.

    I'd bet gymnastics media outlets like Gymcastic and TheGymternet reach way more people with their free coverage than you do with yours - and they don't have full-time employees or investors the way you do. Focus a little more on what makes the sport great and a little less on what you think will drive subscriptions. You'll end up with more eyes on your pages.

  4. Re-assess your priorities for the quality of your live streams.

    The first thing fans want is an uninterrupted stream. Even if you get the commentator, the graphics, the camera angles, and everything else wrong, at least viewers will be able to see the routines as they happen. Invest in improving reliability first.

    Next come the scores. Gymnastics is a sport. You can't follow a sport if you don't know who's winning. Figure it out.

    Good commentators will help communicate updates about the scores. Good commentators are also well-informed about the gymnasts ahead of time. They can trace out storylines as the meet progresses instead of just listing off what happens. So hire good commentators. I really like Sam Peszek's commentary and hiring her is a good start, but maintain the same level of quality for all your streams.

    Get these things right, and I'd bet churn goes down. People will stop feeling like your subscription is a waste of money. Give it a try.

When you step back and evaluate your coverage of this NCAA season, I hope you'll think more carefully about how your relationship with gymnastics fans connects to your bottom line.


Tags: Random Nonsense