Premium—Create Relationship/Engage With Audience
These podcasts and networks seek to cultivate relationships with their audiences and create more “premium” experiences. While podcasts may be freely accessible in order to grow listenership, listeners are encouraged to support the content makers via direct donations or a subscription model.
Panoply’s Andy Bowers noted that, in his experience, podcast listeners are among the most likely to convert into subscribers. Subscribers are given preferential treatment in terms of content, merchandise, access to events, etc. “The majority of people who join [Slate Plus] are podcast listeners. They get VIP tickets to live shows and come to meet the hosts. They’re their hardcore fans,” he said.128
Moreover, because the audience relationship with the host is so pivotal to this content, high-touch, host-read native ads (such as those heard in shows like Slate Money or WTF with Marc Maron) are more common in this model.
Podcasts that operate under this philosophy, but without subscriptions (perhaps because they also operate under a universal philosophy), rely heavily on live events and crowdfunding campaigns to galvanize listeners and foster a sense of community. The creator of Lore, a successful independent podcast (profiled here), delivers handcrafted transcripts to listeners who regularly contribute to the show via Patreon.129 PRX CEO Jake Shapiro noted that all of its live events, merchandising, and Kickstarter campaigns have been supported by “true,” “passionate” fans whom PRX hopes will become long-term contributors.130 Audible’s executive producer of original content, Jim Colgan, sees merit in the strategy, which is about “converting loyalty and relationships into monetary form. That makes it sustainable, if you’re able to turn that into a pledge to keep you going.”colgan
Examples include: Gimlet Media, Earwolf (Howl), Slate (Slate Plus), 99% Invisible