Sunday, October 6, 2013

Thoughts on the Odyssey Adventure Club - An Open Letter

The Odyssey Adventure Club (OAC) has drawn some very strong, mostly negative responses after its official announcement at this past week's webcast. Basically, listeners would pay $180 a year, or $15 a month, for streaming of all AIO episodes and 12 exclusive episodes that fit into the canon of the show. Here's my thoughts, originally posted on Facebook (I know, I know, classy).

Have you thought about using a tier system? Maybe split it into "basic" and "premium"? Basic just gives you the exclusive episodes and Premium would give you the episodes, streaming all the epiosdes and exclusive content. Just a thought. But the way you have it structured now, it WILL fail. Yes, some will pay that price but so many more won't and eventually they will stop listening all together. - another commenter

Dear Focus,

I think the "basic" and "premium" thing is a great idea. Looking at it from an outsider's perspective, I would be very confused if I was a new listener and half of the new episodes released per year were only on a certain platform and half were on the radio/online/digital download. I understand the motives for the move, and the idea of an online streaming service is intriguing and interesting. But to the long-time loyal fans who have no need or interest in the service (note that I'm interested), it disrupts the Odyssey experience (and the Odyssey brand) for many listeners, especially the listeners who simply can't afford a service such as the OAC. And just looking at streaming costs, while I love Odyssey, 700 episodes streaming for $15 a month when millions of hours of streaming are available on similar services for the same cost, if not less money, makes the price absurd. 

ASIDE: If Focus needs a bigger profit margin for Odyssey, what's another avenue to make that happen that a majority of listeners can easily buy into?

On a more traditional route, as another commenter suggested, the radio audience needs to be taken into consideration. While I understand that there's a smaller audience and market there, they introduce a lot of new listeners to the show and have publicized it for the past 25 years. I can't think of a solution to reconcile the radio audience with the new ambitions of the OAC, but something needs to be done. The difficult thing is that Odyssey is often compared to TV shows, where audiences are able to watch each episode for free at least when it airs, and shows recoup their costs through ad money. Since that isn't the case for Odyssey, it makes it difficult to justify airing the episodes, besides listener satisfaction. 

How about story? Characters and important moral lessons have guided the show since its inception twenty six years ago. But with episodes split on different platforms, can continuity still be a thing? I understand that costs need to be made up, but the integrity of the story and the product needs to be taken into account. Think more Wooton in Wooing Wooton than Winston.

There's a lot of important factors and variables to consider when moving forward on this new venture. I don't know what the solution is going to be, but I thank you for your continued efforts to serve the family all over the world and to keep Odyssey going in our homes, whether that's on the radio, online, on our mobile devices, and soon through streaming.

Dear Every Other Odyssey Fan Besides Me,

Hey. Hey. I'm guessing you're probably upset if you're not one of the really excited fans in the comments section of the latest Official Adventures in Odyssey podcast. OAC sounds like a threat to your Odyssey fandom existence, especially if a lot of your friends won't subscribe because they don't want to or can't afford it or you won't be able to join yourself. 

I don't know if I'll be able to join. But I do know this: as fans, our greatest job is to be Odyssey's biggest critics and supporters. We can criticize their decisions and petition for Mitch to return and Emily to disappear, but in the end, we all love the show. I don't know what's going on with Focus (the non-profit organization who produces Adventures in Odyssey) and their finances, but from what I've been hearing, there's a lot of stress happening on that front. I'm not sure if the club is a response to those issues or a new avenue and direction for the show. I don't know if Focus will change their minds and allow everyone to hear the exclusive episodes or not. I do know that if we do feel strongly about the OAC, we do need to let them know. We need to speak with grace and a kind manner and tell 'em our grievances - online, on the phone, in the mail, whatever. But I think that as Odyssey fans, we can do better. When Whit noticed that kids weren't as excited about the Bible, he didn't just whine and complain about the problem. He did something about it, and singlehandedly created the Bible Room, which has spawned the scene for many an Odyssey episode. We can complain and voice our opinions all we want, but I think we can do more. Let's learn more about the situation - the pros/cons of the OAC, the motivations for why Focus created it, and the state of Odyssey and Focus. Then let's rise up together from our fan sites and the ToO and Campbell County and The Soda Shop and figure out a solution together. Is it gonna be hard to figure out something to please every party involved? Yeah. But is it like creating an invention that allows multiple people to travel through doors and go on adventures throughout the Bible and history in their imaginations with other people? Nah. 

Think of it as A Call to Something More.

Please post your thoughts and comments below!

The Odyssey Adventure Club website


  1. a very calm and and reasonable approach to a very frustrating problem. another well done, you two.

  2. This is what I posted on Facebook as well. Haha. We are so classy.

    When I first heard about the club, I was like, "Whatever. I won't join, but good for the people who do. Have fun with that." Then I heard about the exclusive episodes. And I thought, "Seriously? This doesn't make any sense whatsoever. What if there's a plot line that is referenced in the episodes we CAN hear, and all of us who don't want to fork over all the money for that won't understand it? Or characters brought in, or what?" Not to mention the price. I don't think I would use any other features of the club besides the one episode a month (I've heard all the other episodes, after all) and why pay $15 for one episode when you could get an entire album for that much at Christian Books. com? Also. One album a year was difficult enough this year. I've been listening to AIO for over half of my lifetime, and with the exception of the hiatus, they've been making two albums a year, every year, without fail. Then all the GITS, ACTS, and OAC stuff started, and to be honest, I don't think it's a worthy substitute. I really don't care about any of those other features, but I really hope that this exclusive album doesn't happen. (I mean, imagine the suspense between two parters!) If I didn't want to fork over the $180 a year, i would feel as if I was missing out and not a true fan, basically. And if I did, I would feel bad for all the people who couldn't listen. One last thing: I don't think any of these exclusive episodes would be as good, though. It would probably be happy little day in the life stories instead of a longer, deeper, more spiritual storyline, because if you did something like that, the other episodes released to the public probably wouldn't make sense. I don't like a whole lot of those fluffy (I call them whipped cream episodes, because they really don't have a lot of substance. More like you forget about them within a day or two. Haha.) episodes anyway, so I wouldn't pay $180 for 12 whipped cream episodes. Basically, all I'm trying to say is that I don't like the idea of this club, or at least the price/exclusive episodes. Maybe if you made the exclusive episodes available? Then again, that would eliminate one of the main reasons to join the club. I don't quite know. Hopefully this all made sense. I love AIO, and I really just don't want to have an indefinite period of time with only one album a year.

    And, I really like your idea of the basic and premium thing.

  3. PF and Audrey, thanks for reading!

    The basic/premium thing was suggested by another commenter. After listening to the most recent Social Shoutout, it the OAC episodes sound like they'll be very spinoff-y. My inference after listening to The Pilot, Part 1 is that (SPOILERS) Jeff and different Odyssey people will bring supplies all over the world and help people. I could see how the Odyssey team could "focus their lens" on a different aspect of Odyssey - missionary work. It's not vital to the canon, but we'll have to wait till 2014 to see the differences between reg Odyssey and OAC.

  4. I think that the different memberships is a great idea that would satisfy all the groups of people, especially if they did three "tiers" the first tier could be $2-$3 a month and only give you access to the exclusive episode The second tier would be around $10 and would include unlimited streaming of all the episodes in the library plus the exclusive one: The third tier would be the $15 and include everything currently in place. Another change they could make that would benefit people like me would be if you could set up a month to month plan instead of having to subscribe to it. When you are on a college budget you can only splurge if you have extra cash at the end of a month so being enrolled in an automatic withdraw plan is a major drawback for me and quite possibly will keep me from joining at all...