Apple, Spotify podcast feeds pose challenges for growing subscriptions

Podcasters are more and more providing subscriptions as a strategy to develop complementary income and provide listeners bonus content material or further advantages. However they’re ready on Apple, Spotify and different podcast-hosting platforms to supply extra flexibility and options to develop listenership and make it simpler for individuals to seek out the exhibits that provide subscriptions.

“There are technological hindrances that make it harder to scale,” stated David Spiegel, CRO at Betches Media.

Podcast subscriptions can, in some instances, assist a podcasts’ discoverability, particularly since Apple Podcasts launched two new subscription-focused podcast charts in August: “Prime Subscriber Exhibits” and “Prime Subscriber Channels.” Per week after Dateline NBC started providing a subscription throughout its podcast channel, it turned the No. 1 subscriber present on the Apple Podcasts Charts and the No. 3 subscriber channel on Apple’s Prime Exhibits chart, for instance. Since June 2021, the variety of Apple Podcasts subscribers has gone up by greater than 300%, and over 25% of the highest 100 exhibits in Apple’s Prime Exhibits chart provide a subscription. 

Present-level subscriptions are exhausting to seek out

Apple and Spotify each help show-level subscriptions, which give podcasters the power to supply bonus content material or whole exhibits for a charge. Nonetheless, as a lot as that compatibility can improve the attract for individuals to pay for a show-level subscription, the platforms deal with these subscriptions by siloing the exhibits, which might come at the price of individuals discovering an organization’s broader podcast portfolio.

When podcast community QCode added the “Tooth and Claw” podcast to its community in August, it got here with a membership program the podcast had constructed on Patreon referred to as the “Griz Membership.” QCode has a channel subscription that provides ad-free listening and bonus episodes for $3.99 a month or $28.99 a 12 months, however added a separate Griz Membership subscription on the Apple Podcasts app. It mirrors the center tier of the prevailing Patreon membership, at round $10 a month. QCode is launching one other show-level subscription to its newly-added podcast “Jillian On Love.”

Betches Media launched three podcast subscriptions this 12 months: “U Up?,” “Weight loss program Begins Tomorrow” and “Morning Bulletins.” 

Nonetheless, show-level subscriptions don’t seem underneath a podcaster’s fundamental channel on Apple Podcasts. Spiegel stated this makes it tough for listeners to find Betches Media’s exhibits that now provide subscriptions, or for listeners who subscribe to “U Up?” to seek out Betches Media’s different podcasts.

“That turns into difficult as a result of it additionally takes [listeners] out of a few of that pure discovery, which is already the most important problem in podcasting,” he stated. The one approach for listeners to discover a podcaster’s different exhibits is to advertise them in an current present (both in a call-out in the course of the episode, or in channel or episode notes) or have them seem throughout the channel, Spiegel stated. Nonetheless, Apple Podcasts does permit podcasters to create as many channels as they need.

In some methods, it’s much more difficult on Spotify: To supply a podcast subscription, podcasters need to re-upload the present’s feed to Spotify’s podcast platform Anchor, which then provides a “double-feed impact,” stated QCode chief technique officer Steve Wilson. Each podcast feeds have the identical look, however one is for subscribers and the opposite isn’t. QCode and Betches Media don’t provide podcast subscriptions on Spotify.

A Spotify spokesperson stated podcasters have the power to set subscriber content material on the episode degree, to be able to embody each subscriber and non-subscriber episodes in the identical feed.

Incapacity to attach current subscribers

At present, Spotify and Apple Podcasts lack the power to attach a subscriber from one other platform to their apps. Which means if a podcaster has one other membership or subscription program on different digital platforms, there may be not but a strategy to confirm that subscriber on these podcast apps to supply them further bonus options.

“There’s no singular path to subscription. I’d love to have the ability to launch a common subscription product that has entry to every thing that Betches provides no matter the place it’s,” Spiegel stated.

Knowledge safety is a hurdle to providing further perks

For different subscription companies, a giant draw is the power to construct first-party information, which isn’t potential with podcast platforms like Apple Podcasts.

Griz Membership’s Patreon membership provides merchandise like stickers, which might’t be given on to its Apple Podcasts subscribers as a result of listeners can’t select to choose in and share any information with QCode. (Podcasters can accumulate buyer emails by way of hyperlinks in present notes on the Apple Podcasts app.)

“Not [having] a direct relationship with their listeners is a profound problem for podcasters. The tradeoff podcasters and different content material corporations make in alternate for the attain offered by the platforms is the direct relationship with their clients,” Matt Lindsay, president of subscription administration and buyer information analytics agency Mather Economics, stated in an e-mail.

Due to this, podcasters don’t have information to see which episodes have essentially the most engaged listeners, for instance. And so they can’t section their viewers. It additionally means podcasters can’t strategize on methods to lower churn and retain listeners or take actions to win them again (similar to providing a particular low cost to listeners who haven’t tuned in for some time) — a key a part of subscription advertising methods.

“With out entry to listener information, podcasters can lose an essential touchpoint with their viewers,” Amy Konary, svp of Subscribed Technique Group at subscription administration platform Zuora, stated in an e-mail. With out that information, podcasters may face challenges with retention, misplaced income and receiving direct suggestions from listeners, she stated.

An Apple spokesperson wouldn’t touch upon any future product or characteristic growth in these areas.

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