An Update About Tested Channel Memberships

Here's what's going on with Tested's new YouTube Channel Memberships, which is replacing our Premium Membership program.

Hey everyone! It’s been a month since we announced the launch of Tested Channel Memberships on our YouTube channel, and the transition away from the Premium Membership model that we previously ran. Channel Memberships on YouTube replaces the Premium Membership model you signed up for on Tested.com, which we announced we were sun-setting back in February. We launched this program at two levels: $1.99 a month at a “Tested Supporter” level, which grants access to custom badges, emojis, and member-only livestream chat on YouTube streams, as well as merch discounts. For $9.99 a month, you can become a Tested Patron, which includes exclusive videos like build diaries, first dibs in Q&As, and more access to the Tested team and influence on the content you want to see us make.

We know that the announcement came as a shock for some of you, and your feedback was heard loudly and clearly. I apologize for the lack of communication and clarity in that announcement. You guys deserve better, and we’ve been working to come up with ways to address those concerns over the past month. To that end, we’ve opened up a new level of YouTube Channel Membership that will be more comparable to the Tested Premium Membership model.

For $4.99 a month, it’ll include the benefits of the Supporter level as well as access on YouTube to our entire Premium video archive (which is currently being ported over to the YouTube channel), behind-the-scenes updates, and new member-only videos we’re producing now on a regular basis. One new series, for example, has Adam and our team revisiting old builds and providing commentary over classic Tested videos to pull back the curtain on how those builds were made and filmed. Adam’s retrospective on our very first One Day Build is up now.

To recap, Tested Channel Memberships on YouTube means you can support us in one of three levels:

Tested Supporter – $1.99/month

Tested Premium – $4.99/month

Tested Patron – $9.99/month

You can learn more about the specific perks of each level of our YouTube Channel Memberships here. If you’ve already signed up for the “Supporter” level membership (thank you!!!) and you’d like to upgrade to “Premium,” that’s possible. Just look for the “upgrade” option in your Youtube channel membership settings for Tested. Unfortunately, there is no cross-compatibility between YouTube Channel Memberships and the old Tested.com Premium Member program, but we are uploading all of our previous premium videos on YouTube now for Tested Premium and Tested Patron members.

Our team also put together a FAQ to address questions about what’s been going on with Premium Memberships on the site, the decision to move to YouTube Channel Membership, and what’s happening with Tested.com. I hope that these will answer the majority of the questions about the ending of our Premium Membership model on the site and transition to YouTube’s Channel Membership program. To be honest, this changeover has been nerve-wracking for us as well, as we’re still navigating production and running Tested in this lockdown and work-from-home environment.

The exclusive content and programming made possible by Channel Memberships is going to be developed on an ongoing basis, and the feedback of members is a huge part of that. But even as we’ve started up over this past month, it’s something that Adam and the rest of us are really excited to ramp up, and the support you’ve shown so far energizes us. Your patience and understanding is also extremely appreciated, and it’ll be our responsibility to prove that the new memberships are worth your continued support. If you are unsure about committing to any level of channel membership right now, we 100% understand. We hope you continue to watch and enjoy the content we put out as every single view matters.

Please feel free to reach out to share your thoughts and suggestions, any time. Our team also hangs out regularly on Discord, so you can always message us there.

FAQ

WHY DID WE END PREMIUM MEMBERSHIPS ON TESTED.COM?

To be completely transparent, the model was simply not sustainable in the long term. We needed to make a change that would allow us to put our resources towards the facets of Tested which our fans respond to the most. The management and infrastructure related to keeping the premium service operational was simply not the best use of the budget (supplied by you!) or the talent we have available. Keep in mind, we also have a lot of data to suggest that the model was not particularly successful as it was presented. Could we have made improvements and changes and stayed within the ecosystem of Tested.com, perhaps, but we weren’t positive the audience numbers were where they needed to be to prove long term success. If we made a big change, we only wanted to make it once.

WHEN DID WE KNOW THAT PREMIUM WAS ENDING ON TESTED.COM?

We knew the long term model was in a precarious place in early 2020. Keep in mind, because we’re on an annual schedule, we must always plan one year ahead. Before COVID, we were confident we could continue creating content and keep the infrastructure up through 2020, but 2021 was going to be problematic. Therefore, the best thing to do was to shut down new annual memberships in February. At that time, we didn’t know what was going to replace premium or where. We weren’t trying to be coy or deceptive. We simply didn’t have all the answers, yet action needed to be taken and we wanted to relay that action to all of you as soon as possible. (Keep in mind, we STILL don’t have all the answers.) We just knew we needed to try something new and we had plenty of options to investigate. Unfortunately, that’s when COVID hit and threw everything out of whack. We didn’t know how/when/if we could shoot the kind of content our audience was used to. We didn’t know if we’d be able to maintain our business in a completely anemic ad market. The future suddenly became very uncertain and we needed to focus on getting our general business straight before committing to a new premium model. To be frank, we weren’t sure we were going to make it through months of an extended shut down.

HOW DID WE LAND ON YOUTUBE CHANNEL MEMBERSHIPS?

When we finally got in the groove of regular production in the COVID environment, we were able to complete our research on how to best move forward with premium. We took some meetings (including Patreon) and we spent time with data and feedback from our various channels over the years. Ultimately, we decided we needed to bring the premium model to where the majority of our audience spends their time. We were burning resources trying to bring people off of Youtube and onto Tested.com, and we assumed those same challenges would continue if we started the service on another platform. We’re not necessarily over the moon with Youtube’s share of profits or the flexibility in the current channel membership platform, but it does allow us to do some of the things many of you have asked about. At this time in Tested’s history, Youtube channel memberships was the right fit. It doesn’t mean it will be perfect, but we think this will help our business to continue with limited disruption and even some new, exciting opportunities.

And P.S.: For those of you who asked why Tested.com members were not given the opportunity to shift directly into the Youtube plans, we investigated methods of membership transference or free trials. Unfortunately, there was no technical solution that could be worked out with Youtube in time for launch. However, we’re continuing to work with them on alternative possibilities.

WHY DOES YOUTUBE CHANNEL MEMBERSHIP COST WHAT IT COSTS?

Contrary to what may be a common misconception on Youtube, Tested is not Adam Savage. As many of you premium members know, the money that goes into this business doesn’t directly flow to and from Adam’s bank account. Sure, we have a parent company to help leverage larger partnerships and expand our reach, but we still operate like a small business with a very small number of full time employees (six to be exact.) You know our mission has always been focused on creating quality content and sharing most of that content with as many people as possible. Your support in premium memberships over the years has helped us tremendously with that mission. We are eternally grateful. So we wanted to create a channel membership plan that aligned with that message of support, which is the $1.99/mo. level. Members who subscribe to this level are absolutely helping us continue to make the content that you all hopefully enjoy.

Additionally, we’ve received a lot of feedback about our fans wanting more “access.” In order to allow for this shift in our model, where viewers can interact with Adam or have more say in our content decisions, we decided to create the “Patron” level of channel membership. After some number crunching and cost analysis, we decided to set this price at $9.99/month, as it reflects what we believe to be the value that these benefits offer. We absolutely know that this is a significant price increase from our $40/annual membership plan on Tested.com and not everyone will be able to take the leap. Thus we’ve added the new “Premium” level at $4.99/mo. that is a little closer to the original membership model on Tested.com. It’s not our intention to box anyone out or make you feel disconnected from the brand with these price changes. It’s truly just a matter of making a business decision that helps best with our operations and a prolonged future.

WHAT’S HAPPENING TO TESTED.COM?

If you read our first answer on why premium membership was shut down on Tested.com, you may have noticed mention of infrastructure and operational cost. Despite its old design and lack of regular maintenance, Tested is still quite costly to manage because it lives on a proprietary CMS. The good news is Tested.com is not going away and will be undergoing some much needed updates. The bad news is that not everything about the site will remain the same. We’re currently engaged in a major restructure of the site’s underlying technology in order to curb these maintenance and infrastructure costs. By mid/late October, these changes will launch to the public. We’re still finalizing the list of features and content that will be carried over to the new infrastructure and we expect to pass more information along to all of you very soon, so please understand if we don’t have the answers you may be looking for at this time. In general, decisions are being made based on data, not just the need to cut costs. But in relation to premium content, however, we’ll be keeping those videos live on site and will continue to add news ones as they are created.

We know this probably doesn’t answer EVERY question you may have, but we do hope it offers some more clarity without boring you with the minutiae of our business. Again, many thanks to all of you while we negotiate through this. Our fans are always on our mind when we have to make tough decisions, and we value the effort you all take in engaging with us.

-Team TESTED (Adam, Norm, Joey, Gunther, Ryan, and Kristen)

Comments (7)

7 thoughts on “An Update About Tested Channel Memberships

  1. Meh. A few months back I turned off auto renew to my Premium membership because it seemed there was not much Premium content coming out. Bear in mind $40 USD is $53 Canadian so it’s not as cheap for us Canucks as it is for you guys in the U.S. Now, to get closer to the Premium level I’ll have to pay about $80 CAD? Sorry guys, I love this site, but that’s pretty crappy value for a 50% increase in costs.

  2. I’d like to add a positive note here. First a disclaimer though, I haven’t yet paid into any of your new membership schemes, mostly because I’m in the middle of a cost cutting exercise myself. I’d love to support what you do in the future though once the finances settle down again. My main point here though is to say that it’s good to know that the team running Tested is listening to those of us out here and trying to respond to that. The results may not please everyone but any small business needs a two way relationship with their customers (and a few large ones could do with paying attention to that idea too!).

    I don’t know how the relationship works between the Tested team we know from your videos and your parent company but it’s always been quite clear that you operate as a very small, relatively independent business. I’ve been involved with operating small businesses and I know it’s constantly a massive balancing act to keep things going, improve what you do and at the same time try to please all of the customers all of the time. The world of the internet means a lot of people expecting content for nothing (or at least in exchange for a few ads) and I don’t think the balance of income from that model against the expenses of running a business is apparent to many of the people who consume the content being produced, whether that’s video, blogs, informative web sites or anything else. That’s not to say people don’t pay attention, I just don’t think the whole model is at all transparent.

    Producing the quantity and quality of output that Tested has, especially over the last few months is an impressive achievement. I’m somewhat aware of the effort required to produce even a single short video with worthwhile content. I have no idea how anyone produces a constant stream of them.

    Lastly I’ll say this, I don’t know about prices in the US but your new $4.99 per month works out about the same as the subscription cost of a major hobbiest print magazine that I subscribe to here in the UK. Provided you can keep up the quantity and quality of output you’re generating right now I think that’s about the best sort of price comparison that can be made.

  3. Fan since day 1, subscriber from the day you opened it up.

    I would like to thank you for all the work you put in to this! It’s absolutely clear that this is a very small labour of love outfit and I’m surprised it went as long as it did.

    To go the Youtube route doesn’t seem like a money grab but basically the only way forward. To everyone bitter, just imagine Tested going away for good otherwise. Nobody is forced to switch to a YouTube subscription. There will be content for free on there.

    Who would be mad at the cook of restaurant you like for switching the business model because they have to? This is their job!

    All the people employed at Tested deserve to get paid. Just because it is tied to many people’s hobbies it’s no different.

    The Youtube reach is just so much larger. Still not sure why there isn’t a “tip the creator” button on every channel.

    Anyway, good luck! You do create top content both visually and from a journalistic point of view.

  4. I’m ok with the expense, but I really don’t want another monthly ding on my credit card. If you offer an annual payment plan (even with no discount) I’m on-board.

    Certainly wouldn’t be surprised if that’s a limit imposed by YouTube – if so please use whatever conduits you have to tell them people are holding off on subscribing until that’s an option.

    Props to all the work you folks have done and I wish the best (and would like to give you money if I can do it annually 🙂

  5. Thanks for adding a membership option similar to premium membership. Now i can continue to back you!

    I’m glad you’re updating the site, i think it could be something great for this community if some effort was put into it (sorry). It’s just a lost oppertunity and i hope that will improve with better infastructure.

  6. The biggest problem I have with Youtube memberships is that once your credit card info is on there it’s too easy for both accidental and drunk purchases (latter not really a problem but the former is).

    Because of how easy it is to spend money on there, I’d rather not put my credit card on there. Google also has a lot of services that they’re happy for you to regularly pay for so I will be avoiding that.

    I also hate anything monthly, and will cancel it without remorse on a tighter month. Yearly payments are able to sneak through much easier.

    It’s also like Patreon, too many people I want to support on there so not supporting any makes the decision easy and prevents me from spending too much. Sad to say but once the direct support on this site goes away so will mine.

    For how much I use the site it won’t make a difference, but just a sign of how there are too many “monthly” ways to spend money that’s becoming more scarce.

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