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Podcasters test offering more bonus content and extra features to cultivate subscriptions

After launching subscription podcast services this past year, QCode, Tenderfoot TV, NPR and Acast are buying their offerings with the addition of more shows and tinkering with just how bonus content can serve superfans, add value to the paid product and offer complementary, recurring revenue.

The amount of podcasters supplying a paid product keeps growing as may be the number ready to subscribe. Since June 2021, the amount of Apple Podcast subscribers increased by a lot more than 300%, and over 25% of the very best 100 shows in Apples Top Shows chart provide a subscription, a spokesperson said, though they didn’t provide exact figures. Along with bonus content, podcast subscriptions usually offer ad-free listening and early usage of content.

Bonus content around specific shows

QCode, known because of its scripted fiction podcasts, moved in to the unscripted podcast space earlier this month, with five shows put into its network. The business now has over 25 shows, with 30 more in development, said QCode chief strategy officer Steve Wilson. Some more will go reside in the next little while, he said.

QCode is not any. 14 in Apple Podcasts Top Subscriber Channel chart, which launched earlier this month. Wilson declined to talk about the amount of QCode+ subscribers.

QCode is tinkering with subscriptions around specific, unscripted chat shows, Wilson said. While most of QCodes scripted fiction shows can be found under a channel subscription on Apple Podcasts, the business plans to introduce individual show-level subscriptions tailored to the advantages of that specific audience and what theyre searching for and getting ultimately more from those always-on shows, Wilson said.

Different types of content is what we think will really win in subscriptions to provide fans more, he added.

For instance, QCodes recently-added show Tooth and Claw about real wild animal attacks gets the Griz Club for $9.99 per month, which gives subscribers with bonus episodes, usage of a server on the group-chatting platform Discord and early usage of merch a subscription model with additional benefits that may be replicated for other QCode shows.

Were candidly still determining exactly what the huge benefits, pricing and timing of subscriptions will undoubtedly be but we think they may be really bespoke to each show, Wilson said. Then we are able to have a blended model between advertising and subscriptions to essentially support these projects.

Much like QCode, true crime media company Tenderfoot offers bonus content to its Tenderfoot+ on a show by show basis, and really attempting to consider what works because of this particular show, said Tracy Kaplan, head of operations & partnerships at Tenderfoot.Both QCode+ and Tenderfoot+ have their subscriptions on Apple Podcasts. QCode+ costs $3.99 per month or $28.99, while Tenderfoot+ costs $4.99 per month or $49.99 per year.

Four shows were put into Tenderfoot+ this month, like the companys first weekly true crime show. Over 200 episodes can be found on Tenderfoot+, Kaplan said. She declined to talk about the amount of Tenderfoot+ subscribers.

Wondery+, the very best subscriber channel in Apple Podcasts chart, is tinkering with early usage of content, windowing and exclusivity to help expand incentivize the habitual listeners to cover content, Neel Ketkar, head of product management at Wondery, said within an email. Come early july, the Amazon-owned podcast studio released full seasons of popular weekly serialized shows exclusively to subscribers, including Business Wars: Diet Wars, American History Tellers: The Manson Family Murders and American Scandal: The Midnight Crew.

Additional advantages to include NPRs podcast bundle

The majority of NPRs individual podcast show subscriptions give readers sponsorship-free listening. However when NPR goes live using its podcast bundle membership program in November, NPR will begin to roll in additional features, some bonus content, said Joel Sucherman, vp of new platform partnerships.

This might range between an audio reader mail bag in which a host answers subscriber questions, extended interviews, early usage of live events or discounts at the NPR shop, he said. The NPR podcast subscriptions for Planet Money and The Limits with Jay Williams have previously tested out a few of these features, he said.

The bundle is planned to soft launch at 34 local stations, before expanding over the U.S. in the initial 1 / 2 of 2023, Sucherman said. The bundle includes NPR podcasts offering individual subscriptions and make sure they are available to those that join an area station membership. After the bundle becomes available, NPR will cancel the single podcast subscriptions and prorate a refund for the rest of the time left on the prevailing subscription. Existing subscribers are certain to get upgraded to the bundle, that will have over twelve shows, and pricing changes from its current $2.99 per month to a $8 per month or $96 per year tax-deductible donation, an NPR spokesperson said.

The biggest way to obtain NPRs podcast show subscriptions which can be found on Spotify, Apple and NPRs own platform result from Apple, Sucherman said, though he declined to talk about exact subscription figures.

More monetization choices for Acast+

Acast+, an unbiased podcast subscription platform, expanded its podcast monetization capabilities last month with the choice for podcasters to require one-time payments. Podcasters can set a one-time price for a particular amount of episodes or bonus content, instead of require recurring payments. The choice is intended for podcasters who create a seasonal show, who wish to test their audiences appetite for paid content or who might not be in a position to handle the workload of offering bonus episodes at a normal cadence, said Stacey Goers, who was simply promoted to director of product at Acast this week. Bonus content on Acast+ often ranges from outtakes, Q&As or audio from listeners, she said.

Another benefit Acast is increasing its subscription platform can be an integration with Meta coming this fall, Goers said. Paying podcast listeners are certain to get usage of private Facebook groups, where they are able to communicate with one another and podcasters.

A subscription really serves superfans. Im not expecting that it ever would replace our ad efforts.

Tracy Kaplan, head of operations & partnerships, Tenderfoot

Podcasters may also be in a position to test charging much more for different podcast subscription tiers offering usage of additional benefits just like the Facebook groups, Goers said. Goers didn’t share just how many podcasts hosted on Acasts platform provide a subscription before publishing time. She said the merchandise continues to be relatively nascent, and that we now have a huge selection of podcasts on Acast+.

Revenue as a complement

All the execs interviewed because of this story said podcast subscription revenue was a complement to advertising revenue, not just a replacement.

A subscription really serves superfans. Im not expecting that it ever would replace our ad efforts, Tenderfoots Kaplan said. Acasts Goers said podcast subscriptions are simply another revenue stream. It offers you that separate amount of security.

NPR has seen modest success from its individual subscriptions, Sucherman said. This is never in regards to a get-rich-quick scheme. Its been a multiyear program that aligns public radio around success and NPR podcasts with a means of attracting new support from the listeners who love our shows, he said.

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