Pay For Podcasts? No Thanks, Say Most Listeners.


Nine in ten Americans listen to broadcast radio each week, and its free-to-listen advertising-supported model seems to be casting a large shadow over podcasting. A new survey shows that the vast majority of Americans aren’t likely to pay a subscription fee or make a donation to a podcast.


The YouGov survey was commissioned by Variety and it found that among adults who’ve never paid or donated for a podcast, eight in ten said it was “not very likely” or “not at all likely” that they would pay or donate to access or listen to a podcast in the next year. Just two in ten said they were “very likely” or “somewhat likely” to do so.


The survey also shed some light into how many people have already paid to listen to a show or donate to a producer. It found 78% have never paid, while 17% had. Variety says the survey was conducted June 8-10.


Americans’ reluctance to pay for podcasts may be why Luminary, the company that’s been forging ahead with the model since April 2019, has had a difficult time catching fire. Bloomberg reported last month that it has a paid user base of about 80,000. To help grow that number, Luminary cut its monthly subscriber rate to $5 at the start of the year, down from its previous rate of $8 per month.


It also suggests that donation platforms like Podhero, which launched this week, could also face challenges. It hopes to entice listeners with an advertising-free episode when they subscribe to a show using Podhero’s service. The subscription costs $6 per month, and each month that money is automatically divided and shared among the shows a listener supports. But the prospects remain enticing to Podhero co-founder Pete Curley, who calculates that if just half of podcast listeners paid for ad-free shows, the industry would make $3.7 billion a year in revenue — or nearly six times what 2019 revenue totaled.

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