As most of you have heard, we're increasing the price of our Essential membership in just a few days (August 1st). The new price will be $24.99/month, but users who are either Essential or Elite members at the time of the switch will be grandfathered into the $9.99 Essential rate for as long as they remain Essential or Elite.
No matter the business, the response to a price increase is rarely a positive one. I know that some of you will be disappointed or frustrated, and I think it's only fair that I share with you our reasons for the increase.
We launched several years ago with our current two membership options. The intention was for our Elite membership to be very advanced and comprehensive, and for our Essential membership to focus on beginner-intermediate content.
There was disagreement internally, and I was the one arguing for the low price. I was hoping that a very low priced option (and a great deal) would appeal to a huge demographic, getting a horde of users in the door to:
a) Help populate our forums when we were brand new and
b) Eventually, improve and move up in stakes, at which point they'd choose Run It Once Elite over CR/DC/Leggo/etc
While I am proud of the content we've put out, our Essential Membership did not work out as I planned. From purely a business perspective, it was a failure - a mistake in judgment and/or execution by me.
The problem was that the overwhelming majority of the massive 'beginner interested in learning more about poker' demographic (that I was hoping to reach) didn't understand the Essential content. We didn't instruct our pros to create a lot of structured beginner content, and the result was a library full of videos that spoke to, at minimum, the advanced poker hobbyist.
From a financial perspective, our Essential membership option hasn't made sense for a very long time. It has almost surely been -EV for us.
Essential membership levels have been far below expectation. It didn't attract and convert users to Elite members like I'd hoped. If anything, it has likely prevented many would-be Elite members from upgrading because they couldn't justify the 10x increase when already getting so much value from Essential.
We have discussed cutting it entirely (leaving Elite as the only membership option) for years. I've argued against that.
I've mentioned this before, but I'll bring it up once again: I haven't made a dime off of Run It Once.
That's not to say that I don't hope and intend to, of course, but I won't be profitable anytime soon. My focus right now is on building something awesome.
We have known that the Essential membership offering has been a "bad business decision" for a long time, but in the context of what we've been trying to build at Run It Once, it wasn't that big a big deal.
While I still feel strongly about providing a low-cost place to learn high-level poker strategy, Run It Once is more than Phil Galfond and I (we) have to make decisions with the benefit of our company and the people who count on its success in mind.
Our compromise was to alter the price to something more reflective of the true level of content we released. This decision wasn't come to lightly, and along with it, we made sure that current members are able to keep paying the price they have before.
Fairness is a core value at RIO, and we would never make a move like this if we didn't believe it was justifiable.
Since launching with just a handful of videos, our RIO Essential library has now grown to well over 1000 hours of poker strategy content. It's simply not the same product it used to be.
$24.99/mo and no sign-up fee for access to that library & 5 new videos per week is a deal that, as far as I know, is still unmatched anywhere else.