I have found this site valuable over the past 2 years. I didn't become a member to get gear shop discounts, read member only articles, or really any of the other "M" perks. I try to keep my membership current in order to support the BPL business.
What I find most valuable, fun, and helpful are the forums. Sure, the information in the forums is generated by users (paying, and nonpaying), but there are still costs involved. There are plenty of forums out there that are not moderated, and in a matter of days they get clogged with junk. The bandwidth thing I do not quite understand. There are hosting services that offer unlimited space and bandwidth, so I'm assuming Beartooth Media Group/BPL is doing everything in-house. Are there certain things that can be outsourced to save money without giving up too much freedom over the site? I dunno...I'm just rambling. Ryan is the engineer, not me.
As for ads. I agree with some of what has already been posted. Ads for non-members, ad-free for members. That may be difficult to program though.
I was going to suggest using other media outlets for revenue, such as youtube. However, it seems that it would take several hundred thousand subscribers to be profitable. That's a large audience!! Seems like this has everything to do with the audience. This hobby/sport/recreational activity is a fairly specific one, so it's already a small audience. The current paying audience at this site is not large enough to sustain the current business model. So, it looks like we will be seeing several more changes at BPL in the near future. I have high hopes for this community!