Site Updates: A Change to Our Prices, Monthly Plans, and a Chance to Lock in Your Rate

In two weeks, we will be adjusting our prices for the first time since becoming a subscription site almost three years ago. No one ever wants to hear about a price increase, but the good news is that our rates are going to still be extremely low for all of the daily coverage you get.

Our Annual plan is going from $29.99 to $34.99. That still makes the site less than $3 per month, with the increase only being an extra 42 cents per month.

The Top Prospect Plan is going from $79.99 to $89.99, which is a monthly average of $2.50 per month, and an increase of only 28 cents per month.

These changes will go into effect on Wednesday, November 15th, which is about two weeks from now. We are waiting two weeks in order to allow you to lock in on the current prices.

You can purchase an extension for your subscription under the current prices, regardless of when your subscription is set to expire. This allows you to extend your subscription for $29.99 for each year, or $79.99 for every three years, avoiding the price increase.

If you wish to purchase a one year extension at the current prices, you can do that here.

A three-year extension at the current prices can be purchased here.

There is no limit to the amount of extensions you can purchase. Currently our longest extension runs through July 31, 2023, and we currently have over a dozen subscribers who have subscriptions running beyond the 2020 season. Anything purchased will be added to the end of your current plan.

No More Monthly Subscribers

We also did away with monthly subscriptions recently. For the last few weeks, new subscribers have only been given the option to sign up on an Annual Plan or a Top Prospect Plan.

We also canceled the old monthly account renewals. Those plans will be expiring over the next few weeks. I also wanted to hold off on a price increase to allow the old monthly members a chance to purchase a subscription before the prices went up. If you had a monthly subscription, you should have received an e-mail from me with details on that process and the change.

If you didn’t receive the e-mail, the process to remain a subscriber is as simple as going to the subscription page and choosing a new plan.

As for why we removed the monthly plan, the short of it is that the monthly payments created too many headaches, didn’t provide much of a financial advantage for us after monthly fees, and ended up costing you more money than you needed to spend. Plus, we want everyone on the site all year long, since we provide articles all year long.

Upcoming Coverage

Starting today, I will be rolling out features from my Arizona Fall League trip last week. I went in expecting to get seven features out of the trip. I ended up getting enough content for at least ten features, along with other bonus news and articles, one of which will come today. That update will be followed by the first AFL feature, which will be on Mitch Keller.

Those will run for the next 2+ weeks. John Dreker will have daily winter league and AFL recaps during that time. We will also have any news that comes up, along with occasional columns from myself when I’m not working on the 2018 Prospect Guide (which you can pre-order here, or pre-order the limited release paperback version here).

We’ve got other features lined up when the AFL features are finished, again with the goal of having content to read on a daily basis.

  • I applaud your move to an annual subscription model. I found the monthy payment notices and service interruptions even though my account was “on file” irritating.
    “Churn” or loss of customers is a fact of life in the subscription business. Reduce churn and make your annual renewals automatic and painless and you have your base recurring revenue locked in. The technology platform can be improved but the writing and content is well worth it. I highly value the comments and would hate to see that limited in the future. Many of the commentators are first rate and I believe the comments drive future content.

  • Not sure if you’ve addressed this below, but is there a way to find out when your subscription expires?

    • Not Tim but I’ll answer. At the top of the page if you go to Home then My Account there will be a link that says Subscriptions. Under there it will tell you when your subscription runs through.

  • Big fan of the site. Have a 3-year subscription and hope to renew for 3 more years when my subscription is about to expire.

    I have concerns about this business strategy and how it will affect the long term viability of the site. Raising prices to make up for lost revenue due to a reduced customer base rarely works. Customers leave because they are not receiving value equal to cost. From what I can see, you are increasing our cost, but failing to address the value part of the equation.

    In addition, an already reduced customer base is guaranteed to get smaller by the decision to eliminate the monthly plan because you don’t want to deal with the headaches associated with Accounts Receivavable.

    As with virtually every business, this one would be best served to design and implement strategies to create more customers. This strategy is sending at best a mixed message. Renew now to save money, but if you’re a base customer you’ll need to upgrade to do so.

    I hope you’re not only thinking about ways to generate brand new customers, but also strategizing about how to create more value to recoup the customers who’ve already decided once to be your customer. I’d suggest being ready to make a pitch to them to comeback as a customer right around Spring Training.

    Tim, you’re a talented writer and certainly have a great knowledge about your product. I would recommend you find a mentor who has a track record of success in the membership business to help you be just as good of a businessman.

    • “As with virtually every business, this one would be best served to design and implement strategies to create more customers.”

      We have plans in place to get new customers, but I haven’t made them public. I don’t know when, or if I will.

      As for the value increase, my hope is that I’ve shown over the last three years that I’m always trying to increase the value of subscriptions. People signed up expecting only a subscription. I then gave a free prospect guide to Top Prospect subscribers in year one. I gave discounts to Annual subscribers that year, and Annual and Top Prospect subscribers the year after. We also worked to continue to add coverage each year.

      That approach isn’t going to change. But it’s also why we need a price increase for old and new subscribers, regardless of what happened in August and September with cancellations. If you keep adding value, the costs keep increasing. At some point you need to raise the prices to match the increased expenses due to the added value that you are offering.

      • I agree with everything you said. As I mentioned earlier, I’m a big fan of the site and am quite pleased with what I receive for my money. As I’m sure are the large majority of your customers, especially the annual and 3-year ones. I do however question the timing of the price increase considering baseball season is concluding today.

        I want the site to continue to grow and for all of us on here to enjoy the benefits of this success. I hope the vast majority of the monthly customers choose to renew to the annual plan. For those who don’t you may want to offer them a one-time chance to remain a customer by paying quarterly at a fair price.

        Best wishes for continued success.

        • The timing is more about switching to a new membership software soon. I don’t want to switch to new software with a subscription plan (monthly) that we will be getting rid of. Same with the pricing increase now. It’s easier to have that in place before the switch is made.

  • BallHeadWonder
    October 31, 2017 8:13 pm

    Tim and John, Haters goin Hate!!! Love the site and news!!! Pirate Fan for Life!! Love you guys!! God Bless!!

  • Tim, what is your email address?

  • I’m in for 3 more, Tim!

  • Wow, boy this is a tough time for me.
    I still have not recovered from last season.
    Tim’s was very well intentioned with his
    article about the outlook for next year.
    It just made me even more depressed.

    I guess, I will give the PBBC one more
    chance (I’ve been doing that for
    about 60 years.).

    I guess I’ll be in touch with Tim to
    re-up for next year.

    Well, I did learn one thing the other day.
    I am not alone in my depression.
    When I posted that “I am so depressed
    that I would have the Pirates sign Pedro
    to play 3rd base and I would agree to
    sit along the 1st base line.” That statement
    got a record number of thumbs up.

  • I told you you needed to raise your prices! I just extended my subscription for three years at the current rate. Thanks! I was considering buying a subscription for Student Micbg77 but I’m all tapped out. Maybe I could do a research paper for him instead ; )

  • The last update indicated you might fold the website due to cancellations. Now you are asking for people to subscribe for hopefully multiple years. Sorry but I have to ask, if you decide to stop this will you refund the money for the portion of time that remains on the subscription?

    • The last update said that if the trend of people cancelling at a mass rate continued next year, the site wouldn’t have a future. It didn’t say we were folding now.

      As long as people stay on, we’re good. If we keep losing 4-5 people a day like we were doing in August/September, and keep doing that constantly going forward, there’s no countering that. Fortunately, that has since stopped.

  • Have you ever thought about a higher 3 year tier where you get an ebook every year?

    Personally, I would be ok with some adds in the book, for addition revenue:

    p2 sponsored by Giant Eagle or something like that

    • I thought about that for a package deal. I also thought about a higher subscription price being the main option, with the Prospect Guide being free for everyone as part of their subscription.

      As for the sponsorships, we are looking for sponsors right now, and the book sponsorship is an option either this year or in the future.

  • Rather than do away with the monthly, why not make the monthly fee higher monthly to offset the credit card transnational cost. Honestly, if my subscription had not auto renewed I would have canceled my subscription considering the references to the potential demise of the site. Those types of comments will continue to drive subscribers away.

    • In regards to the monthly prices…

      One of the other issues involved here is that 12 payments a year leads to 12 chances of problems. Some of that has to do with funds not being there at the time the payment is due, but the majority have to do with problems that are outside of people’s control.

      A card expires. The bank declines the payment for some odd reason. Paypal or Stripe don’t process the payment correctly. They don’t send the receipt to the site software.

      Then there’s also the business issue of the monthly renewal leading to impulse decisions. If someone is due for a renewal right after the Pirates make a bad trade, for example, they might react by cancelling and be gone for good. The annual subscriber probably doesn’t consider that trade when renewing much later.

      In regards to the comments about the site…

      I realize that this could drive people away. At the same time, the issue is that people are leaving, and expecting the site will just be here when the Pirates are winning again. I need to convey that this creates a very real problem.

      It’s a Catch-22. If I say everything is great with the site, and ignore the problem, then people might cancel, thinking they can just sign up again at any time. If I point out that problem, other people might cancel, worried about the site problems.

      • I dont believe that you say everything is great, but, focus on selling. You can ask for referrals which you are doing a fine job of. In addition, proactive approach to past and potential new subscribers. I know that selling is uncomfortable for a lot of people. I am guessing there is a way to obtain lists of subscribers to sports sites and solicit those using something like mail chimp or constant contact that will prevent having to direct call. It would require the creation of content and I believe something of value to sent every week to stay top of mind. I do more direct selling and still use email marketing and social media to drive awareness. Different people communicate via different media and it is hard to know what individuals prefer, but, I think a Facebook page, Twitter presence, Instagram and Email marketing could be helpful

        $29 for an annual subscription is not that much and if I lost it oh well, but, it made me wish that I had cancelled based on these conversations. I wonder how many more cancellations that this is triggering that you will never get back.

        • We’re doing a lot of MailChimp campaigns with previous subscribers.

          I’ve also noticed a big reduction in the amount of cancellations since that original message. So that’s a positive. We were getting 4-5 per day before that time, and after that we were getting one per day at most.

          • I hope the reduction in cancellations is a good sign. Perhaps the rash was a knee jerk reaction to the bad season. Here is hoping, and, that it turns around. I enjoy the site.

          • I wonder if soliciting current subscribers via mail chimp would make sense as well. Lot of value to Top of Mind Awareness, especially at birthdays, Christmas, etc.

      • TurnerWardHitsTheWall
        October 31, 2017 3:53 pm

        Tim, I just renewed. Keep up the good work!

  • Dang, I was on monthly subscription to pay you guys more. Now I guess I’ll buy some prospect guides for my diehard bucs friends…

  • I’m an annual subscriber and wish you well but not sure about your statement that monthly fees cost subscribers more than they needed to spend. In basic math… sure. But for some people it’s just difficult to make the one lump sum payment and it’s easier to account for paying an extra 50 cents on a month to month basis.

    And obviously with time value of money there is a slight impact as well(although certainly not 20 percent over a year)

    • It involves the credit card processing fees. Annual subscribers have one transaction. Monthly subscribers have 12. We pay about a dollar in fees per year for annual subscribers, and about $5 in fees for monthly subscribers.

      We end up making $1-2 more if a monthly subscriber ends up subscribing for the entire year. But if they skip just one month, we make less than we do on an annual subscription, even though they pay $3 more.

      Basically, we needed to set the monthly plan higher, or just not have it at all. The hope was that people would sign up for the monthly plan as a trial, then upgrade.

  • I appreciate the work you guys do on this site but I’m not going to signing up for a yearly subscription at this time. I’ll let my monthly expire and consider signing up somewhere down the road. I’m still a student though so hopefully I can get my hands on one of those pay it forward subscriptions at some point too.

    • I hope you return, but I can also say for sure that if this is the reaction from the majority of monthly subscribers, then the site won’t be around somewhere down the road.

      • I would like to sign up, but unfortunately right this is not a good time for me to pay the $29.99 needed to get the yearly. I’ll have to check back in January although I know it will cost me an extra $5 for the yearly.

      • BTW how long do I have to decide? In the email I got from you (which I didn’t see until today when I saw your tweet) it says my monthly expires on 12/3.

      • terrygordon30
        October 31, 2017 2:21 pm


        You do a lot of very fine work here. When I was a kid, about the only thing available was The Sporting News back when they covered mainly baseball, and eventually they did away with the minor league stats and put more emphasis on other sports.

        Back then, the Pittsburgh newspapers as well as the TV and Radio sports coverage pretty much ignored the minor leagues. I relied on the Pirates yearbooks, Street and Smith’s annual baseball yearbook and Bob Prince for the most part.

        Today, I can get more information on Pirates prospects in one day than what I got the first 40 years of my life.

        Tim, you are competing with a lot of very good free stuff out there, but you are the best at what you do. As a writer and public speaker, I can truly say that you run a professional site that values good writing as well as good information. Continue to stick with what you do well.

        Raise your prices if you must. Do away with monthly subscribing if you must. Go forward, press on, and do not use the F word….failure

      • Is there a payment plan option for monthly subscribers where they commit for a year but only have to pay roughly $3.50 or $4.00 per month? As an annual subscriber I too hope that the monthly subscribers will continue so we all have a site.

        Second question, if one subscribes for three years, what happens if you do shut down the site? The concerns you’ve raised about staying in business are the only reason I’ve stayed at the year-level. If you guarantee 3 years of coverage, I’ll gladly send my $79.99.

        In any case, thank you for what you do! I love getting information about Kingham’s option year, learning about an off-the-radar prospect like Emison Soto, and reading a first-hand report on the AFL.

        • All I can say is that I plan on doing everything to make sure this site is around for the long-haul. It seems the mass exodus has stopped following the Pirates losing. That was a concerning trend that would have led to 2018 being the last year if it continued.

          I currently have plans in the works to counter such a trend if the Pirates don’t compete in 2018, looking at advertising income, plus a new outreach program to potential new subscribers.

      • You can disregard my question about a monthly payment plan since you address problems with monthly subscriptions below.

      • That’s why I’m hesitant to sign up for a year….What if the site doesn’t last more than a few months? Do you reimburse the difference?

  • Tim you do amazing work. The Pirates being so uninspiring at the MLB and minor league levels right now is horrific bad break for this niche. Saps the life out of most fans and diminishes passion and interest. Polanco and Meadows having hamstrings constructed of the same worn-rubberband-material that Barret Barnes was born with doesnt help either.

    And your chances of continuing your success are significantly diminished thanks to the disaster scenario with the app. Whatever the reason, no app means less convenient access and less page reads and less subscribers. Fair or unfair, its just reality.

    Wish you the best of luck and hope you get signed as a Pirate scout or front office guy if things dont turn around.

    • The app will be returning this offseason.

      I know some people find it more convenient (I disagree, as the site works fine on a mobile browser, and an app is just that with a bookmark on the home screen). But the flaw was a pretty big one. IPhone users were getting free access to the site.

      It will be back, and without that flaw.

      • MDFitness1975
        October 31, 2017 1:31 pm

        Its an outta site outta mind thing. Many people just go to their ‘Sports Apps’ folder and check out their go-to sites/apps. If PP isnt there, many times I wont even think about it. But when it was in my sports apps folder I clicked a couple times per day.

        Plus even tho I click ‘stay logged in’, since I use different computers, I am often asked to re-type my credentials, which half the time means Im just moving on to my next site and not bothering.

      • I personally don’t care whether I use the app or the browser version, but right now neither supports pinch zoom, which I would love to have in order to read the text easier.

    • When the Pirates don’t do good, they should lose fan attendance, but why should Tim lose subscriptions because the Pirates suck. It’s not his fault and you still get the same coverage and excellent articles you always get. Just not as fluffy because Tim tries to speak from knowledge and facts.
      Quitting PP isn’t going to make the Pirates any better.
      In my day they were called “fair weather fans.”