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Podcasters test offering more bonus content and additional features to grow subscriptions


After launching subscription podcast providers final 12 months, QCode, Tenderfoot TV, NPR and Acast are investing of their choices by including extra exhibits and experimenting with the best way bonus content material can serve superfans, add worth to the paid product and supply complementary, recurring income.

The variety of podcasters providing a paid product is rising — as is the quantity keen to subscribe. Since June 2021, the variety of Apple Podcast subscribers elevated by greater than 300%, and over 25% of the highest 100 exhibits in Apple’s “Prime Reveals” chart supply a subscription, a spokesperson mentioned, although they didn’t present precise figures. Along with bonus content material, podcast subscriptions often supply ad-free listening and early entry to content material.

Bonus content material round particular exhibits 

QCode, recognized for its scripted fiction podcasts, moved into the unscripted podcast house earlier this month, with 5 exhibits added to its community. The corporate now has over 25 exhibits, with 30 extra in growth, mentioned QCode chief technique officer Steve Wilson. A couple of extra will go dwell within the subsequent couple of weeks, he mentioned.

QCode isn’t any. 14 in Apple Podcast’s “Prime Subscriber Channel” chart, which launched earlier this month. Wilson declined to share the variety of QCode+ subscribers.

QCode is experimenting with subscriptions round particular, unscripted chat exhibits, Wilson mentioned. Whereas all of QCode’s scripted fiction exhibits can be found underneath a channel subscription on Apple Podcasts, the corporate plans to introduce particular person show-level subscriptions “tailor-made to the advantages of that particular viewers and what they’re on the lookout for and getting extra from these always-on exhibits,” Wilson mentioned. 

“Totally different sorts of content material is what we predict will actually win in subscriptions to provide followers extra,” he added.

For instance, QCode’s recently-added present “Tooth and Claw” about actual wild animal assaults has the “Griz Membership” for $9.99 a month, which gives subscribers with bonus episodes, entry to a server on the group-chatting platform Discord and early entry to merch — a subscription mannequin with extra advantages that may very well be replicated for different QCode exhibits.

“We’re candidly nonetheless determining precisely what the advantages, pricing and timing of subscriptions can be however we predict they are often actually bespoke to every present,” Wilson mentioned. “Then we are able to have a blended mannequin between promoting and subscriptions to essentially assist these initiatives.”

Equally to QCode, true crime media firm Tenderfoot is providing bonus content material to its Tenderfoot+ “on a present by present foundation, and actually attempting to consider what works for this specific present,” mentioned Tracy Kaplan, head of operations & partnerships at Tenderfoot. Each QCode+ and Tenderfoot+ have their subscriptions on Apple Podcasts. QCode+ prices $3.99 a month or $28.99, whereas Tenderfoot+ prices $4.99 a month or $49.99 a 12 months.

4 exhibits have been added to Tenderfoot+ this month, together with the corporate’s first weekly true crime present. Over 200 episodes can be found on Tenderfoot+, Kaplan mentioned. She declined to share the variety of Tenderfoot+ subscribers.

Wondery+, the highest subscriber channel in Apple Podcast’s chart, is experimenting with early entry to content material, windowing and exclusivity “to additional incentivize the routine listeners” to pay for content material, Neel Ketkar, head of product administration at Wondery, mentioned in an electronic mail. This summer season, the Amazon-owned podcast studio launched full seasons of common weekly serialized exhibits completely to subscribers, together with “Enterprise Wars: Food plan Wars,” “American Historical past Tellers: The Manson Household Murders” and “American Scandal: The Midnight Crew.”

Further advantages to come back with NPR’s podcast bundle

Most of NPR’s particular person podcast present subscriptions give readers sponsorship-free listening. However when NPR goes dwell with its podcast bundle membership program in November, NPR will “begin to roll in extra options, some bonus content material,” mentioned Joel Sucherman, vp of recent platform partnerships.

This may increasingly vary from an “audio reader mail bag” the place a number solutions subscriber questions,  prolonged interviews, early entry to dwell occasions or reductions on the NPR store, he mentioned. The NPR podcast subscriptions for “Planet Cash” and “The Limits with Jay Williams” have already examined out a few of these options, he mentioned.

The bundle is deliberate to mushy launch at 34 native stations, earlier than increasing throughout the U.S. within the first half of 2023, Sucherman mentioned. The bundle will embrace NPR podcasts that supply particular person subscriptions and make them out there to those that join a neighborhood station membership. As soon as the bundle turns into out there, NPR will cancel the one podcast subscriptions and prorate a refund for the remaining time left on the present subscription. Present subscribers will get upgraded to the bundle, which can have over a dozen exhibits, and pricing will change from its present $2.99 a month to a $8 a month or $96 a 12 months tax-deductible donation, an NPR spokesperson mentioned.

The biggest supply of NPR’s podcast present subscriptions — which can be found on Spotify, Apple and NPR’s personal platform — come from Apple, Sucherman mentioned, although he declined to share precise subscription figures.

Extra monetization choices for Acast+ 

Acast+, an impartial podcast subscription platform, expanded its podcast monetization capabilities final month with the choice for podcasters to ask for one-time funds. Podcasters can set a one-time worth for a sure variety of episodes or bonus content material, somewhat than ask for recurring funds. The choice is supposed for podcasters who produce a seasonal present, who wish to take a look at their audiences’ urge for food for paid content material or who could not have the ability to deal with the workload of providing bonus episodes at an everyday cadence, mentioned Stacey Goers, who was promoted to director of product at Acast this week. Bonus content material on Acast+ usually ranges from outtakes, Q&As or audio from listeners, she mentioned.

One other “profit” Acast is including to its subscription platform is an integration with Meta coming this fall, Goers mentioned. Paying podcast listeners will get entry to non-public Fb teams, the place they will talk with one another and podcasters.

Podcasters will even have the ability to take a look at charging extra for various podcast subscription tiers that present entry to extra advantages just like the Fb teams, Goers mentioned. Goers didn’t share what number of podcasts hosted on Acast’s platform supply a subscription earlier than publishing time. She mentioned the product remains to be comparatively “nascent,” and that there are “a whole bunch of podcasts” on Acast+.

Income as a ‘complement

The entire execs interviewed for this story mentioned podcast subscription income was a complement to promoting income, not a alternative.

“A subscription actually serves superfans. I’m not anticipating that it ever would substitute our advert efforts,” Tenderfoot’s Kaplan mentioned. Acast’s Goers mentioned podcast subscriptions are “only a separate income stream. It offers you that separate diploma of safety.”

NPR has seen “modest success” from its particular person subscriptions, Sucherman mentioned. “This was by no means a few get-rich-quick scheme. It’s all the time been a multiyear program that aligns public radio round success and NPR podcasts with a means of bringing in new assist from the listeners who love our exhibits,” he mentioned.



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