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May 23, 2016, 12:08 p.m.
Business Models
LINK: www.wsj.com  ➚   |   Posted by: Shan Wang   |   May 23, 2016

Swedish podcasting company is launching an ad-free, paid option on Monday, allowing show creators on the platform to sell content to listeners without any advertising. The new Acast+ makes it possible for a podcaster to sell exclusive bonus content or a brand new series of shows, without relying on advertising revenue.

Acast also hopes “to lure social media stars and celebrities to create new programs to sell directly to their fans,” according to The Wall Street Journal.

“This is the final step of podcasting, in my mind. You can monetize through ads and you can monetize through payment,” Måns Ulvestam, Acast co-founder and CEO, told the Journal on Monday. More on the new premium service:

Through Acast+, creators can charge for a monthly “show pass” that gives listeners access to additional content for a recommended $2.99 to $6.99 a month. Listeners can also make one-off purchases, which could be in the same price range depending on the content, Acast said. To be sure, podcast producers can choose to let their primary episodes remain free and ad-supported on Acast.

Monetization opportunities for podcasts have moved well beyond the insertion of the typical Squarespace/MailChimp/Stamps.com ads so familiar to listeners. Last summer Midroll relaunched its podcast discovery and listening app Howl, with a subscription model called Howl Premium that allows paying users ad-free access to the company’s podcast archives and original Howl content. Gimlet runs a paid membership program (though its slate of shows are free to listen to with ads). Some entire podcasts themselves are ads, in the form of sponsored content.

Acast is the official distributor of many podcasts, from shows by established outlets like the Financial Times and BuzzFeed to ones from independent producers. It has a partnership with audio advertising marketplace Triton Digital to bring programmatic ads to its podcasts.

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