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Podcasting Goes Pay-to-Play 277

James Draven writes "For the last year, people have been wondering - how to make money off podcasts? Some have dabbled with advertising, some with user donations, but now the most popular podcast on iTunes is moving to a subscription model. Bit-Tech is reporting that the Ricky Gervais Show will cost $7 a month starting next week."
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Podcasting Goes Pay-to-Play

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  • Well duh! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 20, 2006 @07:40PM (#14764171)
    Of course people who produce content want to be paid. Unlike people who code in their garage and think information wants to be free...
    • Re:Well duh! (Score:3, Informative)

      by bigman2003 ( 671309 )
      I've been listening to the Ricky Gervais podcast since the first episode, and it is damn funny. (Monkey News kinda lost something after about the 4th week, but the damn diary more than makes up for it.)

      This is one podcast I would be interested in paying for. I usually laugh out loud like an idiot during the whole show. These guys are pros, and it shows.

      Sadly, the only other podcasts I have found that I like are Major Nelson and Distorted View.

      I *might* pay for Major Nelson, just because I am an Xbox geek
      • Re:Well duh! (Score:2, Informative)

        by sprouty76 ( 523155 )
        The Ricky Gervais podcast is the only podcast I've unsubscribed to after one episode. But then I never thought The Office was too funny either.

        On the other hand, I would pay to listen to Distorted View [] or Nobody Likes Onions []. Give them a go, you might just like them.

        • Umm, yeah, I mentioned Distorted View. I do like it. But it is hard to keep up with a 5x a week podcast. I like the once a week thing.

          I'll take a listen to Nobody Likes Onions.

          The Ricky Gervais show might not be for everyone- but the thing I like about it is the character development. Mostly Karl's character, which is basically what the entire show is about.

          Distorted View is funny, I once listened to 20 episodes in a row while waiting for jury duty...
    • Re:Well duh! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by TedCheshireAcad ( 311748 ) <ted&fc,rit,edu> on Monday February 20, 2006 @07:57PM (#14764289) Homepage
      I produce content on my blog and don't expect to be paid. It would be nice, but it ain't going to happen. I would assert that 99% of podcasts are just some jackass going on about how awesome Ruby on Rails is and complaining about how much money he isn't making with AdSense.
    • by Overly Critical Guy ( 663429 ) on Monday February 20, 2006 @08:10PM (#14764365)
      The submission says, "For the last year, people have been wondering - how to make money off podcasts?" But Apple said when they first released podcasting support in iTunes that there would be support for podcasts you'd have to pay for. So really, nobody's been wondering this for the last year.
    • Re:Well duh! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by saltydogdesign ( 811417 ) on Monday February 20, 2006 @11:05PM (#14765051)

      people who produce content want to be paid.

      Before human culture became subsumed under the term "content," these used to just be called "people." As the existence of the Internet attests, there are plenty of people who contribute to culture and couldn't care less whether they get paid for it.

      But, you might have a point. The next time I have a conversation with someone, I think I'll suggest to them that I'm "providing content" and ask for a small fee.

      • by umbra_dweller ( 797279 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @03:46AM (#14766002)
        A man plays a violin sitting on a park bench. He is relaxing after a hard day of work, and indulging his personal hobby in a pleasant environment. People in the park pass by and enjoy his music, and he does not care whether they listen or not.

        Another man plays on a street corner, an upturned hat at his feet with a few coins inside for people to get the idea. He would play no matter how many generous souls pass him by, he always did like the attention you see - but he could use some more cash and he is making a polite request that those who listen show their appreciation through payment.

        Yet another man plays in a nice restaurant, lending a pleasant atmosphere for dining, and on occasion for romance. Not only does the establishment pay him, but he also receives tips from patrons that feel either obligated or grateful.

        Is there not a place for all such men in the world? Is one nobler than the others? They are all performing for some reward - one for his own contentment, another for attention, and the other for money - they merely have different definitions of reward. Or should we expect all men of such talents to resign themselves to park benches and play for our delight?
  • by coolgeek ( 140561 ) on Monday February 20, 2006 @07:40PM (#14764172) Homepage
    Remove shoe, shoot self in foot.
    • Re:Great Idea!!! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by raylu ( 914970 )
      Cable TV? People thought that was suicide. Satellite radio? People thought that was suicide. Pay for something that's already free?! It's. Not. A. Bad. Idea.
      • Re:Great Idea!!! (Score:5, Interesting)

        by coolgeek ( 140561 ) on Monday February 20, 2006 @11:50PM (#14765246) Homepage
        My first exposure to cable was in Manhattan, where people welcomed it because it was damn near impossible to pull a signal. After that, it was a great idea to pay money to not see commercials, but then the commercials came anyway =( Thank god for TiVo, but I digress. My point is you are the first individual that I have ever heard saying "people thought cable was suicide".

        The jury is definitely still out on Satellite radio. You did read about how XM's loss widening [] this week, didn't you?

        I'll bet a few idiots will pay for their podcast, however, I don't think it's going to work very well. First, people are going to have to go seek out the audiobook version of their content on a weekly basis, instead of having it auto-sync'ed to their iPod. Second, this is going to greatly decrease their audience, which is never good for performers. Third, they've priced themselves out of the market, a podcast is not worth $3.50/hr when TV is going for 1.99/hr.

        I could see paying a subscription of about $7/month to a podcast aggregator site to gain access to all of the content new and archived for maybe a season. Like I said, some people will buy their show but most people won't. In the process, they have alienated their audience, thus the reference to shooting oneself in the foot.
  • by HeavensBlade23 ( 946140 ) on Monday February 20, 2006 @07:42PM (#14764176)
    Good luck getting subscriptions at that rate. HBO is only like $25.
  • Correction (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Seanasy ( 21730 ) on Monday February 20, 2006 @07:42PM (#14764177)

    A podcast goes pay-to-play.

    The title makes it sound like all of podcasting is suddenly going to a subscription model which is ridiculous hyperbole.

  • Why this is stupid (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Theatetus ( 521747 ) on Monday February 20, 2006 @07:42PM (#14764178) Journal

    This is stupid because nobody makes money for content directly off consumer in any broadcast medium. Why does the sudden addition of the Internet change this in people's minds? I pay $0 directly to the networks for their broadcast content. I pay $0 directly to the cable companies for their cable content (though the cable provider does filter some of my money back to the stations -- it's still not me paying the station; if it was, I could order just the channels I want). The only time a content provider gets money directly from me is Pay Per View, which seems limited to good boxing matches and pr0n.

    The same idiocy of assuming the Net must play by different rules goes into advertising decisions too: execs get 0 click-through from TV ads, but they freak out when they don't get X% click through from Net ads that they are paying significantly less for. Consider yourself lucky for being able to shove your brand into my face for 15 seconds and then move on, dude.

    • by paulthomas ( 685756 ) on Monday February 20, 2006 @07:58PM (#14764294) Journal
      It might be stupid for you, but that is exactly why it is great. BECAUSE you don't have to buy it.

      People who do value it on the other hand, will buy it. I for example value, a radio-format webcaster of modern rock (and modern rock podcasts). When advertising $$s didn't come through for the new format, I was one of the first to join, because I value the service highly, and I was able to put my money where my mouth had always been.

      Now I pay with a (truly minute compared to the value) amount of cash, instead of paying in terms of minutes of ads.

    • This is stupid because nobody makes money for content directly off consumer in any broadcast medium.

      Luckily this is podcasting, not broadcasting. You can control who gets your 'signal' in a podcast, for the most part. Also, check with DirecTV and find out how many people pay for content from them. They're broadcasting across the globe.

      This is stupid because nobody makes money for content directly off consumer in any broadcast medium. Why does the sudden addition of the Internet change this in people's minds
    • Why this is good (Score:5, Insightful)

      by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Monday February 20, 2006 @08:16PM (#14764401)
      This is good because now the money will go to the people who make the contenet, instead of some middleman like advertisers. I'd rather pay a musician $4 for an album than pay $16 to a label. Or there is ad support, but under the old system, you have to watch a lot of ads to support content, because watching ads isn't very productive. Under the new direct system, the cost of programming will be much lower, if your time is worth anything.

      I do think the market will drive the price lower than $7/mo though.

  • is it commercial free?

    i have never heard the free podcasts of their shows but if i had to sit through two seconds of commercials i wouldnt pay for it. actually why i dont subscribe the xm, there would be short adverts every now and again. content all the time for me if i have to pay.

    • In my experience podcasts are generally commercial free in the sense that I consider relevant. The World's Largest Dungeon from certainly JOKES about ads, but all they actually do give a "Thank You" shout-out to people who have donated money to their site since the last podcast, which I don't think any reasonable person can find offensive in the least. Generally that's the format I've seen in most of the podcasts I've found worth listening too.
  • pod casts (Score:2, Interesting)

    I don't understand why people are so crazy over podcasts. We have had similar things for years now through things like realplayer. And from what I heard of them podcasts sound pretty bad- (but maybe I have havent heard enought) -- And YAYA I know its special cause its for the Ipod. But with that in mind it shows the stupidity of other companies for not jumping on the idea long ago cause the technology of it is not anything new.
    • Re:pod casts (Score:5, Informative)

      by Cadallin ( 863437 ) on Monday February 20, 2006 @08:16PM (#14764398)
      Yes, we've had similar things for years, but the difference now is that they aren't tied to some obnoxious proprietary player, like Realplayer. Podcasts leverage an open standard, RSS, to communicate the release of episodic material generally in a format everyone can play, MP3. You can access podcasts purely with firefox. That's the advantage. And it's not "for the ipod" The idea is that podcasts can function as a portable replacement for Talk Radio. The "Pod" in podcast comes from the fact that the iPod is far and away the most popular portable mp3 player. (You can argue whether that status is deserved or not, but it is true) The ipod name gets attached to vaguely related phenomena in the same way it is common to speak of "xeroxing" regardless of whether the device one uses is manufactured by xerox, or canon, or lexmark, etc.

      The real advantage of Podcasts is that they can be accessed by anyone with a computer that has an RSS reader, and can be played back by any device that plays MP3. That's just about as darn near universal as I can imagine. And that IS a worthwhile contribution.

      That it also lowers the barrier to entry of distribution is also valuable because podcasters HAVE to compete on quality, whether you are a megacorp with a $10Million dollar studio, or an amateur with just a mic and a dream, or anywhere in between, You compete based on quality of content.

      Even better is that in terms of audio quality, studio equipment has become so inexpensive that with an investment of just one or two thousand dollars, it's possible to have quality indistinguishable from a huge studio to the average listener. It really is a means for democratization of the media.

      • I totally agree with you about the open standards, it's what has made the whole thing work. The problem with this pay-for-play podcast from Ricky Gervais is that it's iTunes only and DRMed so that it only works on iPods. Personally I listen to podcasts on my nifty little iRiver player, so I can't listen to this paid podcast without buying an iPod. Suddenly this thing seems a whole lot less cool, attractive, easy and open. Good on them and all, but I think their popularity is about to take a major dive, part
  • Subscription? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jomas1 ( 696853 ) on Monday February 20, 2006 @07:44PM (#14764192) Homepage
    I'm suprised they are going with a subscription based model. $7 for 4 episodes and I'll get billed monthly? While I'd consider a subscription for something like the Daily Show aren't podcasts more like songs i.e. something people are willing to spend 99 cents to purchase at will?
    • Re:Subscription? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sg3000 ( 87992 ) *
      > While I'd consider a subscription for something like the Daily Show

      Agreed. I'd be willing to pay a reasonable subscription for the Daily Show and the Colbert Réport. Unlike regular TV shows, they don't have as much replay value (A year from now, how many people will say, "Ooh! Let me re-watch that send up he did of Cheney shooting a 78 year old man in the face!"), but it would be nice to be able to catch episodes instead of staying up late. I can see paying $7/mo for a monthly subscription (20 epi
    • Re:Subscription? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Phroggy ( 441 ) *
      I'm suprised they are going with a subscription based model. $7 for 4 episodes and I'll get billed monthly? While I'd consider a subscription for something like the Daily Show aren't podcasts more like songs i.e. something people are willing to spend 99 cents to purchase at will?

      No, the entire point of podcasts is that they're subscription-based. You subscribe to a feed (whether free or not), and new content is downloaded automatically as it becomes available, for listening/watching at your leisure. If I
  • Really stupid idea (Score:3, Interesting)

    by aychamo ( 932587 ) on Monday February 20, 2006 @07:45PM (#14764193) Homepage
    This seems like a really bad idea.. I've never heard a single podcast that I would pay for, even a few dollars a month.
    • This seems like a really bad idea.. I've never heard a single podcast that I would pay for, even a few dollars a month.

      Well, if the business model works, maybe there will be more podcasts. Anything that reduces commercial noise is fine with me.
      • In its "free" Guardian Unlimited form, at least the recent Ricky Gervais Show podcasts have included an ad for whatever UK TV network (Channel 4?) it is that shows My Name is Earl. I wonder if they tried finding more sponsors and failed. (In which case, see also, from just over a week ago: "Internet Radio Failing to Find Support?" [] on [] going to a paid-subscription model for "premium" streams...)
  • 7/month (Score:3, Informative)

    by sirnuke ( 866453 ) on Monday February 20, 2006 @07:45PM (#14764194) Homepage
    No podcast is worth $7/month (at least the ones I've heard). That's more than what I used to spend on dial up Internet access.
  • How? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mccalli ( 323026 ) on Monday February 20, 2006 @07:46PM (#14764204) Homepage
    Leaving aside the debate over why for a moment - I'm interested in how. You see, I'd like to create a protected podcast which just my family and relatives could listen to, but I saw nothing in the protocol to allow me to require a password, nor anyway in iTunes to specify security information for a podcast.

    So how is this done?


    • Re:How? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by machiabelly ( 791923 ) on Monday February 20, 2006 @08:32PM (#14764474)

      I was very surprised to find out, but iTunes actually lets you access a podcast protected through the regular HTTP basic or digest authentication.

      When you subscribe to such a feed iTunes will ask you for a username and a password.

      Try subscribing to this feed in iTunes, for example: private feed []

      So if your server lets you setup your own HTTP protection through .htaccess or what not, you can password protect your podcast. If you combine this with SSL, you have a pretty solid protection mechanism, but for just family stuff I would think that the digest authentication is good enough. Just don't use basic authentication because that will send the password over in cleartext.

      More on this topic in my blog []

      (Disclaimer, I write podcasting software for the mac os x)
    • What about encrypting a normal mp3? KISS
  • NPR on Audible (Score:4, Informative)

    by tfinniga ( 555989 ) on Monday February 20, 2006 @07:49PM (#14764220)
    You've been able to subscribe to NPR podcasts on Audible for quite a while - before the term podcast was widespread anyway. Recently, a few good ones like "Wait wait, don't tell me" have become free via sponsors, while others like "This American Life" [] are still only available for download for a fee (streaming is free).
  • by jonathanbearak ( 451601 ) on Monday February 20, 2006 @07:49PM (#14764222)
    I'm very curious to see how it pans out. It would certainly see a lot of analyst attention, the first paid-for iTunes-only subscription.*

    Yet this, $7, is almost 4 times the cost of a television show. I could buy two hours of Galactica (or something more popular. ... Desperate Housewives, for the mainstream audience) for $3.98. Or I could pay double for the same amount of plain audio.

    They need to offer a lot more for this to be successful.

    99 cents a show is simple enough. That, I'd try out.

    This is an unproven medium. A good entry point is required. Individual tracks sold like songs would work well. What they're trying to do will put many people off. Then again, maybe enough people really really like Ricky Gervais. But probably not.

    * (iTunes + audible, whatever -- everyone will focus on the Apple end of things; they're more newsworthy, whether or not you agree with it.)
    • I agree that $7 for audio content is pretty high when you compare it to $8 for a month's worth of a television show (we're not talking content comparison, we're talking platform comparison). i dunno why they don't just try $.99 a show. I don't like subscription models AT ALL. What if one month all the shows suck? Can I get a refund?
    • Yet this, $7, is almost 4 times the cost of a television show. I could buy two hours of Galactica (or something more popular. ... Desperate Housewives, for the mainstream audience) for $3.98. Or I could pay double for the same amount of plain audio.

      In England, audio comedies regularly outsell all but the biggest music hits. It's a cultural thing. Check this Guardian article. [] It talks about a British company that gave free iPods + comedy audiobooks to all its employees.

      However, in other news: The Ricky Gerva

    • Yet this, $7, is almost 4 times the cost of a television show.

      $7 == one month of gervais podcast == 4 shows. That's $1.75 per half-hour show. That is in-line with what apple is charging for TV shows.

      But, but, but this is audio only. Whatever the market will bear...
    • I can listen to podcasts while I work. I cannot watch TV while I work. Therefore, audio entertainment is more valuable to me.
    • Then again, maybe enough people really really like Ricky Gervais. But probably not.

      People must like him somewhat, being as his podcast just got into the Guiness Book of World Records for being the most downloaded.,,1703591, 00.html?gusrc=rss []
  • by paulthomas ( 685756 ) on Monday February 20, 2006 @07:49PM (#14764227) Journal
    This recalls the discussion we had a while back about online radio. [] (The Future of Rock and Roll) is also going pay to play.

    All of the podcasts of live acts playing in their lounge and also the podcasts of the unsigned band show will be available for download for subscribers, much like the example this article provides.

    It looks like the reality has finally hit that nothing is free. At least though, is a good deal. You get the podcasts, and real DJs streaming quality music live over broadband quality streams.

    I personally wish everyone the best in their efforts to make entertainment sustainable, independent, and listener supported, both with regard to the new effort via iTunes, and independent groups like who have seen the future of quality entertainment.

    Paul Henrich
  • by serginho ( 909707 ) on Monday February 20, 2006 @07:49PM (#14764228)
    I don't think will mean much for 99,9% of podcasters out there, since these guys mentioned in the article were already famous when they started their show and, on top of that, had the benefit of being promoted by a newspaper such as The Guardian. For most podcasters, I still think that donations are the way to go. There's one problem, though. Once you subscribe to a podcast, you rarely return to the site, so I would guess "impulse" donations are harder to come by. Maybe iTunes (or other aggregators) should include a donate option. I know, it will probably never happen, or they'd get a cut, but this seems to be a fair way of compensate podcasters without creating paid subscriptions.
  • Expensive (Score:3, Informative)

    by Salo2112 ( 628590 ) on Monday February 20, 2006 @07:52PM (#14764249)
    Rush Limbaugh charges like 5$ a month for his podcasts, and Al Franken's and Ed Schultz's are free. This guy is way over-priced. It's not that a subscription model can't work, but you can't charge way more than the market will bear.
    • This is spoken by someone who has clearly not HTFP (heard the f*cking podcast). Ricky, Steve Merchant and the absolutely sublime Karl Pilkington [] are worth the money, I'm convinced. I'd pay $2 a week just for Monkey News and Karl's diary.

      Check the link above for a small taste of Karl's life, or you can still get the first 12 episodes for free at [].
    • Cant speak to Franken, but I can tell you as a former subscriber that Limbaugh gives you WAY more than podcasts, the information archive, or "stacks of stuff" make a really handy political/civic repository, with lots of oppinion thrown in, but always pointers to the real thing.

      His service was there way before podcasts, it started as video streaming (and commercial free audio feed - breaks filled with music/parodys)

      What I am saying is that Limbaugh (and other Premere Radio subscribtions that I have seen)

    • Rush Limbaugh would have to pay me about $5K to listen to his ramblings. If psychiatrists get paid to listen to mad people, why shouldn't I?

  • I have to say that I find the adventures of Karl Dilkington to be pretty humorous, but there's no way I'll ever pay 7 bucks a month to listen to Ricky and Stephen make fun of him...
  • Um, no... (Score:5, Informative)

    by jwachter ( 319790 ) < minus distro> on Monday February 20, 2006 @07:54PM (#14764267) Homepage
    Did either the submitter or the editor bother to read TFA?

    The only "news" here is that a single, previously free podcast is now going to sell itself on and remove itself from the iTunes Music Store. There is no new functionality being added to iTunes (such as a way for individual podcsters to sell their own content).

    Nothing to see here. Please move along.

    • Re:Um, no... (Score:3, Informative)

      by Have Blue ( 616 )
      Actually, it will STILL be available on iTunes- just through the pay Audible section, not the free podcast section.
  • $7 for 4 x 30 min shows?

    I don't know how good this show is, but by god it would have to top some heavy hitters.

    $7 for 2 hours of what seems to be average comedy skits - I think someone needs to ease off the drugs a little.
    • "$7 for 2 hours of what seems to be average comedy skits - I think someone needs to ease off the drugs a little"

      or do more so that your sense of time gets messed up and the material becomes funnier.

  • Bit-Tech is reporting that the Ricky Gervais Show will cost $7 a month starting next week."

    I suppose I just won't listen to the show then. Not that I've ever heard of it before anyway. Needless to say though, if Mr Gervais thinks he's going to get all his listeners to pony up $7 a month, I think he's going to have to come up witha much, much better act.
  • Throwaway stuff (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jack79 ( 792876 ) on Monday February 20, 2006 @07:56PM (#14764281)
    I like the Ricky Gervais podcast a lot - but I'd class it more as throwaway entertainment. Unlike his TV shows I can't imagine ever wanting to listen to one of his podcasts multiple times. Right now I download, listen, delete. If I was paying for the show - even the small amount suggested - then I'd want something more substantial. And to be honest there is plenty of free content out there to keep me going.

    Second point is that this is a small subscription - but for a half hour show. If all the shows I listened to also decided to charge a small amount then this would very quickly turn into a lot of money. Maybe it would make more sense to charge for a pick and mix channel of shows?

  • I can get every podcast I download off of iTunes by another means already. I use iTunes because it is easier. I certainly don't need it. I can have the iTunes client find the podcasts I download manually and add them to my library.

    Now, if they start getting exclusive content, or worse making content I can get free elsewhere only available through them I will just move on. Podcasts are successful because they are free expression. iTunes gains more by providing them for free than by attempting to charge.
  • I have downloaded so much podcast content (nearly 12 days worth of audio) that it will take me a while just to sift through it and get caught up. Anything that cuts this task down, such as a show going off the air, starting to suck, or starting to charge for their content, just makes this task ahead of me easier :-)
  • the al franken show went subscription-only a month or so ago...
  • Sounds like LiL Jimmys younger brother with super aids


  • I've been listening to Gervais. I can see how they'd be willing to experiment with turning his show into a pay show. I mean if I'm listening to him he must have thousands of listeners. I'm not saying I'm so tapped into what's hip as I'm saying his show was worth listening to. But not for seven bucks.
  • by Petronius ( 515525 ) on Monday February 20, 2006 @08:57PM (#14764578)
    This is what I used to do a while back:

    $ cat ~/bin/

    mplayer -nocache -really-quiet -vo null -af resample=44100:0:1 -ao pcm -aofile $HOME/mp3/RADIO/`date +%y-%h-%d-%R`.wav $1

    then I got lazy with iTunes & my iPod... If I have to go back to that, fine. It's not the end of the world.
  • It had to happen (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ben_1432 ( 871549 ) on Monday February 20, 2006 @08:58PM (#14764582)
    I don't think $7/month is a reasonable amount. I wouldn't pay that personally.

    Having said that, I do think it is inevitable that this happens. The cost to provide the podcasts, and the exhaustive work creating them, had to be reimbursed from somewhere.

    Donations simply don't work - I removed all advertising from a popular site of mine for 6 weeks, and instead put a donations page. 6 weeks and 3,000,000 files served later, the donations totalled $0.

    If the Red Cross, World Vision, Salvation Army etc struggle to get donations, having to resort to tv/radio campaigns begging for money, then I don't like any websites chance of succeeding.

    Because the medium is an mp3, the advertising is limited to injecting ads like on a radio. The value of those ads (in my opinion) is less because someone might well be commuting or otherwise occupied when listening. It's not like 'traditional' web advertising where the ad is in front of you and can be clicked for an immediate response and/or roi.
  • by Lord_Dweomer ( 648696 ) on Monday February 20, 2006 @09:08PM (#14764622) Homepage
    The Subscription Wars are fast upon us. It seems like every company out there is trying to turn their business model from one-time payment into a monthly subscription. Why? Because it is a steadier revenue stream.

    Unfortunately, when everybody starts trying to charge a subscription for their "service"...and nobody seems to have many subscriptions under $5/month...they will end up feeding off each other. I only make $X/month, and before, I would save up and purchase something. But now it seems companies want me to keep paying them month after month, and my paycheck can cover only so many subscriptions. I think companies will fast realize that not all of them can charge a subscription, and in fact they might do better not to.

  • Like sex (before someone replies with it), but a tech podcast doesn't really sound like it has much that can't be gotten on one of the zillion sites on the web. They better have damn good commentary on what they discuss, or there's no way people will pay for this.
  • ...require me to hit Fast Forward at least SIX times to skip his whole 'cast? I subscribed to it once, and foudn it on my "recently added" playlist. Didn't feel like listening to it, so I hit FF, nope, still on his podcast. Hit FF, nope, still on his podcast. I noticed tickmarks on the overall progress meter. His show is the only one I know of that does that(and it's irritating). Any reason why?
  • Great isn't it. Maybe Rickys Ego has just got just that little bit too big.

    I really hope this bombs big time, however it's likely to be a comfortable success.

    According to []

    380,000 people downloaded his first podcast from guardian unlimited, later shows where less successful and more people prefered to download an individual episode than decided to subscribe.

    looks like the first series is available as a torrent in the usual places.

    each show is about 15meg in size
  • Satellite radio is a perfect economic model to replicate -- lots of content bundled together to appeal to the largest audience possible.

    One show for one month at $7 is an economic model that is ultimately ridiculous. If I want to listen to a dozen shows a week, you're asking me to pay $84/month?!? No way will people do that, it simply doesn't scale.

    Heck, a lot of websites tried this model and most of them fell on their face and relented to the free model. People will pay for stuff they like, but it has to
  • Strange language (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nagora ( 177841 ) on Monday February 20, 2006 @10:06PM (#14764842)
    I think I've got it now:

    "Podcast" = recording.

    "Subscription" = paying for new recordings.

    "Podcasting goes pay-to-play" = buying newly released audio recordings with money. Haven't we been doing that in music shops for decades?

    Is this news just because the word "podcast" sounds more exciting than "a recording"?


  • by tktk ( 540564 )
    I've already listened to a bunch of horrible podcasts.

    Haven't I paid enough in brain cells committing suicide?

    Now they want money?

  • The subscription is for the whole of the season of podcasts, which they guarantee will be at least four episodes; but the last season was twelve episodes so that's probably what they have in mind.

    Also, it's not a recurring charge, but a one-off.
  • by DeveloperAdvantage ( 923539 ) on Monday February 20, 2006 @10:28PM (#14764881) Homepage
    I think if the content is good enough, people will pay for it.

    The whole notion of "podcasts" has done audio content is huge disservice. Most podcasts I have heard really are not that good. They are filled with uhmms and ahhs, akward pauses, and often appear adhoc, unedited and unprofessional. We need a better name for properly researched, recorded and edited audio recordings which are not too long, and, as I have before, I suggest we call them "audicles" and move away from the "podcast" debacle.

    Non-music audio content has a bright future. I believe though the growth will be in audio books. These must be professionally researched and written, and have high quality content, just like any other book on the market. For some interesting audiobook stats, take a look at tion.php?pId=138&rId=3 []. (I am not affiliated with them in anyway).

    For primarily text based books, it is relatively straight forward to create an audiobook from them. Just have someone, maybe or maybe not the author, read the text into a microphone and then do some editing. I listed to Bill Clinton's "My Life" on audiobook and quite enjoyed it, and also to the "War of the Worlds", which was also good. I also tried to listen to the Feynman lectures on audio (my academic background is in Engineering Physics), and this was where I felt the audio medium did not work well. For technical topics, it is very difficult to covert a lecture or a book to an audio only medium; instead, you really need to write from scratch specifically targeting the audio medium.

    So, this is what we are currently working on, developing audiobooks for software developers. So far, the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. We are currently allowing people to freely download them, but eventually expect people to pay for them. Many people have said that they would gladly pay for the high quality audio books we are providing. But, saying it is one thing, the ultimate test will be when we actually make the switch from free to pay and see how many sales we have.
  • by neo ( 4625 ) on Monday February 20, 2006 @10:42PM (#14764931)
    It's been show that you can generate great interest in online content with a yearly subscription, but not with montly subs. When people think about a montly subscription they start to add the numbers in their head and quickly figure out that the thing isn't worth the money... but yearly subscriptions feel less painful. You feel like you're going to get this forever for this one price. Like you're buying the show rather than renting it.

    Plus you get way more subscriptions this way from people who eventually drop out. Going for a low cost yearly is much smarter than a higher cost montly rate.

How many NASA managers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? "That's a known problem... don't worry about it."