Existing Business Models
Because of podcast’s mobile advantage (and the promise of podcast ads as an antidote to the frustrating world of online display ads), advertising has become podcasting’s fastest-growing revenue stream. From the interviews conducted for this research, it seems many podcasts and networks remain reliant on advertising, but they are simultaneously exploring other revenue streams, mainly foundation grants, direct support, subscription models, and live events. These last three are of particular interest, as they rely on converting audience engagement and loyalty into recurring donations.
Because there is no one-size-fits-all solution to generating revenue, and each podcast/company follows a different business model, I presented operational models/philosophies concerned with the question: What do you want podcasts to achieve for you? The answers inform the ways podcasts/networks raise revenue and prioritize revenue streams:
Those that follow a “universal” philosophy hope to get their podcasts heard by as many people as possible (and thus logically rely on advertising as an important revenue stream).
Those that follow a “premium” model attempt to convert listeners into recurring, loyal patrons via bonus offerings.
Those that follow a “value-added” model use their podcasts as a means of enhancing both the consumer experience and the brand (and so revenue is not the primary goal).
Of course, a podcast can ascribe to all of these philosophies and strategies simultaneously; nevertheless, I hope these concepts are helpful guides for understanding how podcasting revenue streams are prioritized and balanced.