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Wondery Is Winner In Subscription Race This Year, But Size Of Market Remains Small.


Apple Podcasts says Wondery had the top subscriber channel of 2022 as the studio was the home of 16 of the top 20 subscriber shows, a list led by Morbid and SmartLess – podcasts that Wondery has a one-week exclusive distribution deal with. Since launching podcast subscribers in June 2021, Apple has not released any figures revealing how many people pay to listen. But a new survey from Morning Consult offers a glimpse of how big that marketplace has become.


The Morning Consult survey conducted last month found that 22% of U.S. adult podcast listeners said they paid or made a donation for podcast benefits, including ad-free content or exclusive episodes. That figure is much higher among Millennials where 35% report opening their wallets, while smaller among Gen X listeners, of which 19% said they had paid for podcast content. The survey was conducted Nov. 22-26 , among roughly 900 U.S. adult podcast listeners. It has a margin of error of +/-3%.


Morning Consult Media and Entertainment Analyst Kevin Tran says the podcasts best positioned to generate subscription revenue are those shows that appeal to listeners who are younger, left-leaning and higher-income. Those groups are more likely than their demographic counterparts to have paid for additional perks according to Morning Consult data. It says podcast listeners who identify as gamers and bet on sports are also, on average, more likely than listeners in general to have recently paid for podcast benefits.


The opportunity to get even more podcast listeners to pay may also be reflected in how podcast listeners are spending their money on other media. Morning Consult says among those it surveyed, 87% say they subscribe to at least one video streaming service. And 38% said they spent at least one dollar on video game microtransactions.


“Media companies should target consumers who are heavy video streaming service users, as they are more likely to have paid for podcast content than those with access to fewer streaming services,” says Tran. He says an “obvious candidate” to begin charging for its podcasts is Netflix, although its audio portfolio is not especially extensive. The prime candidate for charging is the New York Times, which has been stepping up its subscription offerings. Tran suggests that a way podcasters can increase awareness of their subscriptions is YouTube.


In its year-end update, Apple Podcasts says despite their subscription option, all of the top subscriber shows are broadly distributed and have a free, ad-supported option, which it says means that creators are not facing a trade-off between reach and revenue with Apple Podcasts and subscriptions.


Here are the top subscriber channels on Apple Podcasts in 2022:

  1. Wondery

  2. Dateline NBC

  3. Pushkin

  4. Tenderfoot TV

  5. TED Audio Collective

  6. BBC Podcasts

  7. Planet Money

  8. Radiolab

  9. The Moth

  10. Luminary

  11. Slate Podcasts

  12. Lemonada

  13. The Binge

  14. Casefile Presents

  15. Radiotopia

  16. Slumber Studios

  17. The Athletic

  18. S&S +PLUS Light

  19. Imperative

  20. Wondery Kids

Here are the top subscriber shows on Apple Podcasts in 2022:

  1. Morbid

  2. SmartLess

  3. American Scandal

  4. This Is Actually Happening

  5. Something Was Wrong

  6. Sword and Scale

  7. Over My Dead Body

  8. The Shrink Next Door

  9. Twin Flames

  10. Snap Judgment Presents: Spooked

  11. The Execution of Bonny Lee Bakley

  12. Fed Up

  13. Scamfluencers

  14. Against The Odds

  15. The Vanished Podcast

  16. Dateline NBC

  17. Killer Psyche

  18. The Generation Why Podcast

  19. Internal Affairs

  20. Suspect

Subscriptions offer podcasters a new source of income, but it is also good for Apple’s bottom line. Apple will take a 30% cut of subscription revenue in a show’s first year producing a paid offering, with the rate falling back to 15% in subsequent years. That is a considerably higher cut off the top than Spotify is taking. The rival streamer is not taking any cut during a podcast’s first year producing a subscription product, with a five percent rate in subsequent years.

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