Elon Musk wants paid subscribers to account for 50% of Twitter's revenue, but half of its users won't pay to use the site, data shows




Illustration of Elon Musk and the Twitter logo
Illustration of Elon Musk and the Twitter logo  
  • Elon Musk wants subscriptions to account for 50% of Twitter's total revenue.

  • Many users say they won't pay for the service, however, according to a survey.

  • One marketing expert said creating a mandatory subscription model could cause people to leave Twitter.

Elon Musk is betting that revenue from subscriptions can kickstart Twitter's revenue issues, but data shows that many users may not be willing to pay to use the platform.

Musk has said he wants subscriptions to account for 50% of Twitter's total revenue, according to a message by a VP on an internal company slack.

The message, which was shared on Twitter by Platformer's Casey Newton, said Musk thought the subscription aim "could help with conversations" and "pay by credit card could help with bots."

However, a survey from The Harris Poll, a global market research and consulting firm, found half of frequent US Twitter users said they would ditch the platform if it came with a monthly subscription fee.

The firm polled 2,063 US adults, 1,212 of which were Twitter users, from October 20 to October 28, the week Musk took over the company.

Pinar Yildirim, a professor of marketing and economics at The Wharton School, told Insider introducing a subscription model to Twitter could even drive users away from the platform. Yildirim said many users were waiting to see if Twitter becomes subscription-based.

"Worries about subscription changes have caused some users, either of higher status like some celebrities or ordinary users, to express a desire to potentially explore other platforms," she said.

"If in the end, the revenue model becomes such that everyone on Twitter has to pay a price," she said, "that's going to result clearly in a movement of users who may find it too expensive to simply be on Twitter."

Gone like Enron

Some public figures have said they'll quit the platform if Twitter starts charging for verification.

"$20 a month to keep my blue check? Fuck that, they should pay me," bestselling author Stephen King tweeted. "If that gets instituted, I'm gone like Enron."

The now-suspended Twitter Blue subscription had around 140,000 paying subscribers as of November 15, according to data published by The New York Times.

If Musk wants to generate enough revenue to pay the $1 billion in interest owed on Twitter's debt each year, it would need to add about 10 million more paying customers, according to social media expert Matt Navarra.

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