X Media™ Company

X Will Soon Make Live-Streaming a Premium Only Feature

X is moving yet another feature behind its paywall, with live-streaming set to become a Premium-only element in the coming weeks.

Yes, that’s right, if you want to live-stream on X, you’re going to have to pay up, which will inevitably reduce the amount of on-the-ground footage uploaded to the app, which has long been a key value of its live-streaming options.

So why X is making this a paid-only option?

Well, apparently, X is having a problem with copyright and piracy violations in the app, with many users streaming illegal content via its live option. X says that by moving live streaming to a Premium-only feature, that’ll help to address this, while also improving the overall quality of content in the app.

But as noted, it’ll also mean that people witnessing an in-progress news event will no longer be able to quickly switch on an X live stream, and broadcast it to the world. Which seemingly goes against Elon’s own “citizen journalism” view for the app, where real world witnesses provide actual perspective on news events.

But then again, X would also be hoping that the change will prompt more users to sign up to X Premium, which is still seemingly struggling to gain mass take-up, and has thus far failed to become the revenue replacement that Musk had originally forecast for the app.

When Elon originally purchased X back in 2022, his initial recovery plan for the business included a big emphasis on paid subscriptions, as a means to reduce its reliance on ad dollars. If X can essentially become self-funded, via users paying for the app direct, it won’t need to bow to the demands of ad partners anymore, which would move it more into line with Elon’s ideological “free speech” vision for the app.

Elon’s original plan was for X to eventually be generating half of its revenue from subscriptions, which, based on Twitter’s income in 2022, would equate to around $2.5 billion in subscription intake in 2023.

But it’s nowhere near that as yet.

According to estimates, X Premium take-up is currently sitting at less than 1% of X’s active user base, or fewer than 2 million paying subscribers in total. 2 million subscribers, at an average of $8 per month (X now has tiered pricing starting at $3 per month for basic features) equates to around $48 million per quarter, or $192 million per year.

Which is no small amount, to be sure, but it’s not close to being the major revenue driver that Musk had initially hoped when he started selling blue ticks.

It seems now that Musk and Co. are hoping that its Grok AI chatbot, also a Premium-only element, will act as another lure for paying users, though it’s hard to see X Premium becoming the big-time revenue vehicle that Musk, at least initially, had hoped.

According to reports, Musk’s initial business plan for X projected that the company’s annual revenue would rise to $26.4 billion by 2028, with subscriptions contributing $10 billion of that.

X reportedly brought in around $2.5 billion in total in 2023, and doesn’t look to be improving on that in any significant way this year.

Its financial woes are now also reportedly sparking tension between Musk and his CEO Linda Yaccarino, over Yaccarino’s perceived failure to get its revenue back on a positive growth track, with Musk also pushing Yaccarino to cut more costs to improve the bottom line.

Basically, user subscriptions aren’t going to be the winner that Elon had hoped, no matter how many functions it shifts to paid only.

So why keep doing it? Why keep locking features away for paying subscribers only, which will only reduce the amount of content in the app?

Copyright concerns aside, it seems like a counter-intuitive move, from an increasingly desperate company.

But Elon has a vision, no matter how murky it may be to everybody else.

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