The interest in podcasts is increasing and the offer continues to grow. Think of The Deventer Media Case (a reconstruction of the role of the media in the aftermath of that murder case), NRC Today (a daily news podcast), Geuze & Gorgels (with Monica Geuze and Kaj Gorgels) or The Bird Spotcast (for bird watchers).
The attention for the medium makes it more and more interesting to earn money with podcasts. On Tuesday, Apple announced that makers will be able to offer subscriptions in the podcast app from next month. According to The Wall Street Journal, competitor Spotify will announce the same next week.
A battle that has been dormant for some time is gaining momentum. Key difference: Apple wants to share in the revenues of makers, Spotify reportedly does not.
“We are at the beginning of the change that listening to podcasts will increasingly cost money,” expects media scientist and podcast maker Linda Duits. “And I think listeners will allow that too.”
In its infancy
At the same time, the podcast market is still in its infancy. It is not entirely clear how much money is spent in the Netherlands. Presumably it concerns relatively small amounts; worldwide, the market is estimated to be worth nearly $ 1.4 billion this year. A recent Dutch survey by Markteffect shows that 8 percent of the respondents have paid for a podcast at some point.
Large parties therefore see a future in a revenue model. Three years ago, Tim de Gier founded the company Dag en Nacht Media together with his partner Anne Janssens. It is now a publisher with more than forty shows of its own and, according to De Gier, profitable.
In addition to advertisements, they have been working with a new concept since June last year: Friend of the Show. Basically their own subscription model, which makers can join. “We very much believe in the bond between listeners and their favorite show,” says De Gier. Listeners who pay get extras in return.
The makers of ‘Damn Honey’ have now managed to make ends meet from their podcast, in the video they explain how:
De Gier looks with mixed feelings at what Apple and Spotify are doing now. “We are certainly going to test the subscription models. There is no other option, but I also think that is the big disadvantage of it: the gateway is theirs. You have to participate in how they determine the market.”
For a long time, making podcasts was ‘labor of love from old paper’, says German media scientist. “It is very exciting what is happening in the market now. For a long time podcasts did not have a revenue model and it was unclear where it was going.”
Important starting role Apple
The phenomenon podcast (merging the words iPod and broadcast) emerged in the early 2000s. An important step was taken by Apple in 2005, when iTunes started supporting the new audio form. The arrival of smartphones with apps and cheap fast mobile internet have made it easier to listen to podcasts in recent years.
The development that is now taking place could thus be seen as the transition from puberty to maturity of the medium. According to Titus van Dijk, co-founder of podcast publisher Tonny Media, the arrival of subscriptions is a logical step. “Making is not journalistic volunteering.”
He also notes that Apple has invested little in furthering the podcast for a long time. “In recent years Spotify has pulled that cart and now Apple is doing a countermove.”
The most popular podcasts in the Netherlands according to the charts of Apple and Spotify:
Van Dijk’s publishing house has a lot fewer shows than Dag en Nacht Media, now slightly more than ten, and that is conscious. Every podcast, he says, must be a great success. “We offer our listeners more than exclusive audio. For example video, newsletters and a chat.” They use a paywall for this.
The production houses deal with parties that often have much deeper pockets. Spotify already has its own podcasts, it bought a publisher for hundreds of millions in 2019, and it is expected that Apple will also come up with this. They will then only be available on those platforms.
This means that there is a chance that your favorite shows will soon be divided over different apps, and whether or not paid. Dutch media parties, the NPO and NRC, now also have their own podcast apps. Friend of the Show must also get an app.
This creates a fight for the listener between media companies – large and small – where their apps must be the center of attention.