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Podcast Testing Offers More Bonus Content and Extras to Increase Subscriptions

After launching a subscription podcast service last year, QCode, Tenderfoot TV, NPR and Acast are investing in their products, adding more shows and experimenting with ways rewarded content can serve superfans, adding value to paid products and providing complementary recurring revenue .

The number of podcasts offering paid offerings is growing — and so is the number of people willing to subscribe. Subscribers to Apple Podcasts have increased by more than 300% since June 2021, and more than 25% of the top 100 shows in Apple’s “Top Shows” chart offer subscriptions, a spokesperson said, but they didn’t provide exact details number. In addition to rewarded content, podcast subscriptions often offer ad-free listening and early access to content.

Bonus content around specific shows

QCode is known for its scripted fiction podcast , which entered the unscripted podcast space earlier this month, adding five more shows to its network. QCode chief strategy officer Steve Wilson said the company now has more than 25 shows and 30 more in development. There will be more going live in the coming weeks, he said. QCode does not exist. Ranked #14 on the “Top Subscriber Channels” list on Apple Podcasts, which launched earlier this month. Wilson declined to disclose the number of QCode+ subscribers. Wilson said that QCode is experimenting with subscriptions around specific, unscripted chat shows. While all of QCode’s scripted fiction shows are available through Apple Podcasts’ channel subscriptions, the company plans to roll out individual show-level subscriptions “based on the interests of a particular audience and what they’re looking for and from those always-on-shows,” Wilson said. He added: “We think that different kinds of content will really win subscriptions, which will bring more money to fans.” For example, QCode’s recently added show “Tooth” about real-life wildlife attacks and paws” has a $9.99 per month “Griz Club” which provides subscribers with bonus episodes, access to servers on the group chat platform Discord and early access to merch — a subscription model with added benefits that can be replicated elsewhere QCode program. “We’re still being candid about figuring out the exact benefits, pricing and timing of subscriptions, but we think they can really be customized for each show,” Wilson said. “Then we can have a hybrid model between advertising and subscriptions to really support these programs.” Similar to QCode, true crime media company Tenderfoot is offering bonus content for its Tenderfoot+ “show-by-show and really trying to think What worked for this particular show,” said Tracy Kaplan, head of operations and partnerships at Tenderfoot. Both QCode+ and Tenderfoot+ subscribe to Apple Podcasts. QCode+ costs $3.99 per month or $28.99, while Tenderfoot+ costs $4.99 per month or $49.99 per year. Four new shows have been added to Tenderfoot+ this month, including the company’s first weekly true crime show. Kaplan said there are more than 200 episodes available to watch on Tenderfoot+. She declined to disclose the number of Tenderfoot+ subscribers. Wondery+, the top subscription channel in the Apple Podcast chart, is experimenting with early access content, windows and exclusivity “to further motivate habitual listeners” to pay for content, Neel Ketkar, head of product management at Wondery, said in an email . This summer, the Amazon-owned Podcast Studio released full seasons of popular weekly serials exclusively to subscribers, including “Business Wars: Food Wars,” “American History Tellers: The Manson Family Murder,” and “American Scandal: Midnight Crew”.

Additional Benefits of NPR Podcast Bundle

NPR’s Big Most personal podcast subscriptions allow readers to listen without sponsorship. But when NPR launches its podcast bundle membership program in November, NPR will “start rolling out additional features and some bonus content,” said Joel Sucherman, vice president of partnerships for new platforms. He said that could include “audio reader mailbags” for hosts to answer subscriber questions, extended interviews, early access to live events or discounts at NPR stores. NPR podcast subscriptions “Planet Money” and “The Limits with Jay Williams” have tested some of these features, he said. Suchman said the bundle plans to soft-launch at 34 local sites before expanding to the US in the first half of 2023. The bundle will include NPR podcasts that offer individual subscriptions and are available to those who sign up for local station memberships. Once bundles are available, NPR listeners will have the option to cancel individual podcast subscriptions and receive a pro-rata refund for the remainder of the existing subscription. Existing subscribers can upgrade to the bundle, which will include a dozen shows, and will cost $8 a month or $96 a year from the current $2.99 ​​a month, an NPR spokesperson said. Tax-free donations. The largest source of subscriptions to NPR’s podcast programming — available on Spotify, Apple and NPR’s own platform — comes from Apple, Suchman said, declining to give exact subscription numbers.

More monetization options for Acast+

Acast+ is a standalone The podcast subscription platform, which last month expanded its podcast monetization, gives podcasters the option to request a one-time payment. Instead of requiring recurring payments, podcasters can set a one-time price for a certain number of episodes or bonus content. The option is for podcasters producing seasonal programming who want to test audience interest in paid content, or who may not be able to handle the workload of regularly offering bonus episodes, said Stacey Goers, who was promoted to Acast’s product director this week. Bonus content on Acast+ often includes foreign languages, Q&A or audio from listeners, she said. Another “benefit” that Acast is adding to its subscription platform is an integration with Meta this fall, Goers said. Paid podcast listeners will have access to private Facebook groups where they can communicate and podcast with each other.

Subscriptions do serve superfans. I didn’t expect it to replace our advertising work. Tracy Kaplan, head of operations and partnerships at Tenderfoot

Goers said podcasters could also test charging more for different podcast subscription tiers, which Tiers provide access to perks like Facebook Groups. Viewers did not share how many podcasts hosted on the Acast platform offered subscriptions prior to release time. She said the product is still relatively “nascent” and has “hundreds of podcasts” on Acast+.

Earnings as ‘Supplement’

interviewed for this story All executives said podcast subscription revenue is a supplement to advertising revenue, not a replacement. “Subscriptions really work for superfans. I don’t think it’s going to replace our advertising efforts,” says Tenderfoot’s Kaplan. Acast’s Goers said the podcast subscription “is just a separate revenue stream. It gives you a different level of security.” Suchman said NPR has seen “moderate success” from its individual subscriptions. “This is never about a get-rich-quick scheme. It’s been a multi-year scheme to combine public radio with success and NPR podcasting in a way of getting new support from listeners who love our show,” he said.



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