Strava rolled out a massive set of changes yesterday – the largest raft of changes in recent memory, in fact. The changes are centered around encouraging users to become paying subscribers, which, as Strava says, “… ensures that Strava can serve athletes decades from now, and in an up-front way that honors the support of the athletes we serve today.” Or in plain English: Strava isn’t yet profitable, but they need to get there. So they’re going to cater to athletes willing to pay a fee for the service.
Given the context of seeking profitability, it’s no surprise that yesterday’s changes expand the features available for subscribers. But Strava has also reduced the features available to non-subscribers, making the subscription service more appealing while doubtlessly driving non-subscriber masses to take up pitchforks and light torches.
Here’s a quick summary of those changes, in case you haven’t yet read the details:
New features for subscribers:
- A big Routes update, with planning & recommendations on iOS and Android
- Matched Rides: Analyze performance on identical rides over time
- See your full workout history with Training Log on iOS
- Workout Analysis is now available for all activity types
- Grade-Adjusted Pace (GAP) now on iOS and Android
- Coming soon: A whole new way to compete on segments…
Subscription-only features that were previously free:
- Overall segment leaderboards (Top 10 view is still free)
- Comparing, filtering and analyzing segment efforts
- Route planning on strava.com, with a huge redesign launching soon!
- Matched Runs: Analyze performance on identical runs over time
- Training Log on Android and strava.com
- Monthly activity trends and comparisons
Non-subscribers will still have access to the following (not an exhaustive list):
- Top 10 all-time and Top 10 women
- New segment creation (but private segments only for Zwifters)
- Segment detail screen
- Segment explore/search
- Flagging segments
- XOMs and PRs on segments
How Does This Affect Zwifters?
Depending on your subscriber status, and how you use Strava, these changes may have a big impact on your usage of the platform. Or they may have no impact at all!
Subscribers aren’t losing any functionality – they’re getting a few upgrades, in fact, including an improved route builder and fitness stats on the mobile app.
Non-subscribers, however, will notice a reduced feature set compared to the Strava they’ve grown accustomed to. For Zwifters, this will be most noticeable when it comes to tracking your leaderboard rank on segments, and comparing/analyzing your segment times.
- Leaderboard Rank: non-subscribers will only see the top 10 leaderboard, as well as their own ranking, for a segment. You can’t see the rankings of your friends, club members, etc. If you’re anything like me, you don’t really pay attention to your overall rank on Zwift segments – with tens of thousands of riders competing on each segment, my overall rank just isn’t a useful metric. (It’s very useful for outdoor segments, though!)
- Analyzing Segment Times: What I do pay attention to are my historical times on segments. I like to see how many efforts I’ve made on a particular segment, and those segment times. This segment analysis is going away for non-subscribers.
Many of you have enjoyed using the Zwift Insider Route Hunder Leaderboards powered by Veloviewer. As part of yesterday’s change, Strava has greatly reduced the data available to third party apps like Veloviewer. The good news is, for paying subscribers, Veloviewer leaderboards will continue functioning just as they did before.
For non-Strava-subscribers, though, Veloviewer (and other third-party apps) can no longer grab your segment times via the Strava API. So Veloviewer’s leaderboards will become more of a checklist of segments, and less of a ranking tool.
Response from the Community
DC Rainmaker posted a rather scathing article about the changes. It summarizes some of the changes, especially the neutering of their API. CyclingTips shared a thorough, measured post explaining the changes. A quick Google search brings up plenty of other posts about the changes, if you’re in for some light and repetitive reading.
Overall the response from the community seems to be quite negative, but that’s not surprising, given that ~95% of Strava’s users aren’t paying subscribers. Strava’s challenge here is that they gave away so much for free for so long. When you try to take all that free goodness away, you’ll get some angry users.
Me? I’ve been a Strava subscriber for years, because I find the service useful and affordable. (How else would I chase live segment KOMs in my IRL rides?) So these changes don’t impact me directly, although I can see how they will make segments less interesting for non-subscribers, which is a bit of a bummer for everyone.
An Opportunity for Zwift, and Others
This is purely speculation on my part – but I’d say Strava’s latest changes open the door even wider for Zwift (and other companies) to step in and provide a useful, free solution to the activity tracking and route-creation needs of their customers.
What if Zwift Companion could show me segment analysis for my Zwift rides? Right now the only PR data I can see is in-game, and it only lasts for 30 days. What if segment PRs were stored forever and accessible to be analyzed? What if we could view KOM/QOM data, comment with user tagging, filter by friends lists and Clubs, and more? All included in the price of your Zwift subscription.
I’d love to see it – but I suspect it’s not high on Zwift’s list of priorities. And that’s probably a good thing, for now.
Are you a non-subscriber who is annoyed by these changes? A subscriber who is perfectly fine with it? Or something else? Do you think there’s a place here for another company to swoop in and build a Strava-beater? Or perhaps such a platform already exists? Share your thoughts below!