Podcasting models mature and diversify

“When podcasting reaches its potential size, looking more like peak radio penetration thanks to these many new and improved sources of discovery, we’ll start to see several revenue models arise to support the diversity of content now possible by untethering the form from RSS.”

How do I want to start out my 2018 predictions? By saying “I called it” for 2017. Last year, my predictions centered around the high-touch, high-value propositions that content creators needed to put forth in order to ensure their own survival — from niche print titles (like my own, ), to premium/paywalls that have been the lifeblood of news outlets such as The New York Times, to the flourishing world of audio that I get to explore as content director at .

These high-value propositions not only survived in the tumultuous year of our lord 2017 — one that saw digital-first operations like BuzzFeed and Mashable fall far short of revenue projections, slashing jobs and pivoting to video as they frantically tried to find an advertising model to sustain their heavy costs — they thrived. Why? Because they got much of their revenue directly from their audience, proving that in the era of platform dominance, an ad-supported model for journalism might always be a part of the mix, but it can never be the complete picture.

Instead of further gloating, I’ll make some more bold predictions for 2018:

Search and premium come to podcasting

With the acquisition of earlier this month, Apple made a bold move to reclaim some of the territory it had ceded to competitors in the realm of audio discovery. This is a signal that Apple sees the upcoming year of podcasting as one battling between itself, Google, Amazon, and platforms such as Acast — all trying to surface content to a podcast audience that doesn’t yet exist. That these big players don’t yet have a route to monetization, the way that Acast and Megaphone do, isn’t what’s interesting here — it’s that they’re betting on the who don’t regularly listen to podcasts to start listening through new ways of discovery.

Search, in-home devices, and native apps are all muscling into a territory that they will help expand quickly, giving podcast creators tremendous new freedom in storytelling formats and even revenue models. When podcasting reaches its potential size, looking more like peak radio penetration thanks to these many new and improved sources of discovery, we’ll start to see several revenue models arise to support the diversity of content now possible by untethering the form from RSS — short-form, daily, one-offs — supported by ads, subscription, or in-app purchasing like and many others, finally yielding the diversity that has always been podcasting’s essential promise.

We’ll tell you what’s important

I see the consumption models of content eventually hovering around two ends of a spectrum of engagement. On one hand, an atomized stream of content delivered around algorithmically and socially derived recommendations served to us via tech platforms — from Google Home to Twitter to Instagram — all interconnected and constantly calibrating to make sure we’re getting the most relevant content served up to us in our hands.

And on the other end of the spectrum, a complete lean-back experience, served to us when we barely remember we asked for it (hopefully inciting some whimsy and surprise), in a format that focuses our complete immersion in the experience. Of course, I’m talking about magazine — a print-only product we ship four times a year — filled with stories that we deem interesting, that have underappreciated subject matters, headlines that you’d never click on, and images you can’t encounter in a Google search. To enjoy our magazine, and the , other quarterlies that continue to pop up, you must completely surrender to the idea that you have almost no control over the content experience — your trust is our hands.

is director of content for and publisher of .

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Federica Cherubini   The rise of bridge roles in news organizations

Mario García   Storytelling finally adapts to mobile

Debra Adams Simmons   And a woman shall lead them

Lucas Graves   From algorithms to institutions

Adam Thomas   Sharing is caring: The year of the mentor

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Miguel Castro   The arrival of the impact producer

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Rubina Madan Fillion   Unlocking the potential of AI

Amie Ferris-Rotman   More female reporters abroad (please)

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Elizabeth Jensen   Show your work

Dannagal G. Young   Stop covering politics as a game

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John Keefe   Scooped by AI

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Matt Carlson   Attacks on the press will get worse

Michelle Ferrier   The year of the great reckoning

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Nikki Usher   The year of The Washington Post

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Dan Newman   A return to trust

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Usha Sahay   Wallets get opened

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Basile Simon   We need better career paths for news nerds

Marie Gilot   No assholes allowed

Sarah Marshall   Loyalty as the key performance indicator

Sam Sanders   Shine the light on ourselves

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Jamie Mottram   From pageviews to t-shirts

Andrew Losowsky   The year of resilience

Luke O'Neil   The end is already here

Mary Walter-Brown   Show a little vulnerability

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Vivian Schiller   Pivot to tomorrow

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Corey Johnson   The pro-fact resistance

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Jim Moroney   Newspapers have to be good enough for readers to pay for

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