The idea of paying for Twitter may seem antithetical to the spirit of open social networks, but some analysts are saying a subscription model might be Twitter's only chance at surviving as an attractive company (outside of being bought, that is). In a research note last week, analyst firm MoffettNathanson noted that Twitter's ad revenue keeps declining and nothing on the horizon appears to offer a viable path toward turning things around. If Twitter can't make a meaningful profit from ads, a paywall is the only revenue model that makes sense, the firm writes. And not just any paywall—they're talking about a rigid, all-or-nothing model that forces users to either pay up or forfeit their tweeting rights.
"The idea is to pivot from an ad-supported model to a subscription model," write Michael Nathanson and Perry Gold. "To be clear, we mean Twitter would move behind a strict paywall. Customers who don't pay a monthly fee simply cannot use the platform anymore. It's a draconian approach and one which likely drastically reduces the size of the platform and could be massively unpopular. However, by our calculations, it is one which could yield multiples of the revenue Twitter drives today and importantly this revenue stream would be recurring and wouldn't be as choppy or seasonal as advertising revenue."
As a way of bolstering their argument, the analysts point to Twitter's relatively small but loyal base of power users who basically can't live without it. Translation: The snarky journalists, celebrities, and the Patton Oswald types who have become regular Twitter fixtures might fork over a few bucks a month to stick around. What do you think? Would you pay for the privilege of being able to tweet? Tweet at me here with your thoughts.