Why now is the time to launch your podcast subscription

Why now is the time to launch your podcast subscription

Written by Stacey GoersSenior Manager, Product2022.07.28

Podcasting is an incredibly intimate, audience-first medium — and it's made of pretty stern stuff. Whether through regular ad and sponsorship revenue, or monetary support directly from paying listeners, podcasting is perfectly set up to excel in the kind of uncertain economic conditions we’re seeing worldwide. 

No matter if you’ve been podcasting for five years or five months, adding a podcast subscription offering to your stable — through Acast+, for example — can make a real difference to your income.

We’ve seen many podcasters launching with Acast+ in recent months, generating alternative revenue and getting closer than ever to their audiences. Many of our early creators with Acast+ saw an increase of 25% in revenue — and, since opening the offering to more podcasters, creators have continued to receive notable lift in subscription revenue alongside their earnings from advertising. Some have even gone fully into Acast+, and receive nearly all of their revenue directly from their audience.  

But building an audience takes time, which is why we’re encouraging our creators to launch with Acast+ now. We want both podcasters and listeners to get the most benefits as quickly as possible. 

With a subscription service, you can set up an initial offering to your audience right away, and it takes minimal effort — so you can build on it as your time allows, and as you learn what your audience wants. And remember, a podcast subscription sits right alongside your free podcast in the open ecosystem, so you can provide different things to different audiences. 

Subscription fatigue is real, of course — as outlined by Reuters and the University of Oxford released their massive 2022 Digital News Report. According to the report, audiences are less inclined to pay for multiple news sources, especially as families tighten their monthly spending.

But podcasting is a different animal, and has several big advantages over other mediums:

  • Intimate conversations with the hosts or brands that your listeners trust
  • On-demand news and content that is flexible for any listening habit
  • Approachable price points for subscription services
  • Respect for data privacy

And so, while the report might show small percentages for podcasting versus other media, it also highlights the enormous, unrealized opportunity it holds.

These data also highlight the growing importance of formats like email and podcasts, both of which have become much more important in driving regular engagement for all publishers – from general news to specialist information and entertainment.

Reuters and University of Oxford 2022 Digital News Report

This is further supported by our own research, which shows that nearly half of podcast listeners in the UK and Ireland started listening to podcasts in the past year, while Edison Research says Canadian podcast listening is up five percentage points from 2021. 

Also according to Edison, US podcast listening continues to climb in 2022, with 62% reporting they have listened to a podcast at least once — the highest figure since Edison started collecting data on podcasting in 2006.

Intimacy first

Looking at the larger macroeconomic trends around subscription services tells us part of the story, but podcasting as a medium itself tells us the rest. 

Podcasters have intimate relationships with their audiences, and Acast leverages this by landing sponsorships and bringing in stable ad revenue for our creators. We know personal appeal drives audiences to take action, and we know brand recall for podcast ads outperforms other platforms. 

Marc Maron is a high-profile example, but the most important thing he’s done is build a relationship with his fans — he’s more like a friend than an untouchable celebrity. And that creator-listener bond means that, when something hits home — a really fun brand advertisement, or a call out to join a subscription membership, for example — listeners are more likely to take action.

But there’s another secret: tangibility. Nonprofit organizations have known about this for years. If you’re donating to a charity and know the funds will go towards opening a new building, for example, you can see the direct impact of your efforts. It’s easier and more effective to raise funds to fulfill a specific goal — and a tangible one — than it is to drive donations for a general building or maintenance fund. 

So, if you’re a podcaster funding your craft, tell the audience exactly that. You can let them know that, by supporting you through your subscription service, they’ll be paying for your time, your equipment — and, potentially, your ability to pursue podcasting as a full-time effort. The audience will hear that, remember it, and be more likely to join your subscription offering.

Acast podcast Back From The Borderline is a great example. Host Mollie has built an “intimate circle,” for her more engaged fans through her Acast+ membership. Since her initial launch in April, she has seen 80% growth in membership — and just offers one premium tier for this set of dedicated fans. 

Launch early and watch it grow

You might agree with all of the above, and know that a podcast subscription could be a great thing for your show. But maybe right now doesn’t feel like the right time — and perhaps all this feels like a lot of effort.

Of course, any subscription service takes time to develop a sticky audience. When you only publish once a week, it can take a number of episodes to get the word out about a subscription offering. And, while we see some great growth quickly with some podcasts, for many it takes time to convert their audiences to members.  

But it doesn’t have to be all bells and whistles. We encourage podcasters to start with a simple offering — an ad-free tier, for example — and then ask their audience what they want to see next. This helps you get to know your audience better, and means you can launch desirable products at effective price points.

Paranormal Activity with Yvette Fielding launched its Acast+ subscription in early March. By the end of May, the number of subscribers was double what they’d achieved in the first month. You don’t need to be the size of Sh**ged Married Annoyed to get a dedicated, committed and paying audience to convert to an Acast+ membership.

The sooner you can start the process of promoting your membership, and telling your audience why they should support you, the sooner you can get that loyal audience.

And Acast has all the tools you need to convert your audience to a membership, including:

  • Intro audio added to your regular episodes, explaining what your subscription is and how to subscribe
  • Customizable calls to action in episode descriptions
  • Headliner integration for sharing on social media

These types of tools are built to make it easy for you to talk with your audience, without needing hours of your time. You can read more about getting yourself primed for launching with Acast+ here

If you’re interested in setting up subscriptions via Acast+, sign up to Acast now for access. If you’re an existing Acast podcaster, simply head to the “monetize” tab on your Acast dashboard.

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