As any media outlet in the 21st century is more than aware, diverse sources of revenue are necessary for long-term sustainability. Outlined below are four major sources from which podcasts and podcast networks generate revenue: advertising and sponsorship, direct support, foundation support, and membership/subscription models. Also mentioned are a few streams that, while generally less lucrative, are easy to implement or serve strategic purposes, such as live events and partnerships.
The division between these categories is somewhat arbitrary (what, in essence, distinguishes a wealthy individual’s large donation from a foundation’s small contribution?); however, I have borrowed these categories from interviewees who explicitly mentioned the following revenue streams in these terms. More important to note is that each podcast/network finds its own balance between these sources—some depend significantly on advertising while others maintain public radio’s “three-legged stool” philosophy (in which three revenue sources—usually advertising, direct support, and foundation support—are conscientiously and purposefully given equal weight).