If 2014 marked a peak for Podcast listenership (thanks in large part to the popularity of Serial), than 2015 is shaping up to be the year of redefining the podcast’s power. Midroll Media, the parent company behind the popular Earwolf podcasting network that hosts Scott Aukerman’s Comedy Bang Bang, is looking to lead the charge with the release of HOWL.
HOWL is a new audio service and application that is aiming to be the “Netflix of podcasting.” And part of that means helping shift the monetization model for the industry as a whole. The service will house podcasts with huge popularity and extensive backlogs, and will put their old episodes behind a $4.99 per month paywall. Podcasts like Comedy Bang Bang (with over 370 episodes) and WTF with Marc Maron (which counts President Obama as a recent guest) will join HOWL and hopefully bring in listeners who can help fund new podcasts, podcasts with lesser known talent, or even special edition podcasts that might not be financially feasible otherwise.
Traditionally, content creators have been able to monetize their podcasts through advertising before and during their programs. Podcasts have been attracting a small but fiercely loyal audience since their inception in 2004. Midroll learned through an anonymous survey of advertisers that 91.5% believe advertising has offered them a good value on their money spent. Companies like Squarespace and Bonobos have become known for their long-term dedication to advertising on podcasts, and this only makes sense if it offers them a high enough ROI. HOWL will continue to air the commercials embedded in new podcasts, but will ideally help monetize podcasts that wouldn’t normally be able to attract advertising dollars.
What Sparks Our Fire: Reimagining the model for monetizing podcasts