3 min read
The latest episode of the Start-up [podcast from Gimlet Media](gimlet media.com) is all about the conflicts they feel about advertising that sounds like an endorsement. Despite the fact that it sounds like an endorsement because it is an endorsement, they worry that other folks may question their journalistic independence and all that. So they decided, we won't endorse stuff even if we like it, use it and think it's great. I think that's sensible.
The show ended with the announcement that I can now join Gimlet Media for just $5 a month and receive various goodies as a reward for supporting the company. I'm honestly not sure I want to do that, for a few different reasons.
For a start, as the podcast revealed, shows like Reply All are looking to book something like $900,000 this year in advertising. As the hosts said, on being told, "holy shit". I understand that advertising revenue fluctuates and is often the first cut in a downturn, but I do nevertheless feel that that lets me off the hook. And yet, I don't mind paying for a physical magazine or newspaper, even though they too take at least some advertising cash. I know that the price would be much, much higher were it not for the ads, not least because I pay for a newsletter that takes no advertising, and it isn't cheap. Now I don't know how many downloads Reply All gets per episode, but it must be pretty hefty to be looking at that kind of income from ads. How much would each download cost for the show to be truly "listener-supported radio"?
That would be my preference, to be able to reward the show after I have listened to it. Much trickier, I know, as a business proposition. But much less conflict, at least for me.
Then again, I think about the whole freemium model that currently dominates podcasting (and some other forms of content on the web). Everyone gets the main product for free while supporters get extra goodies. Why? Why not make everyone pay? Because we want an audience, and having nobody pay would be the clearest possible sign that this is a pure ego trip, no more?
These things are occupying a lot of my thoughts as I embark on this new phase in my activities. I can't see Eat This Podcast attracting ads any time soon, and I can't figure out how to get support on my terms. One thing I would like to be able to fund would be reporting trips, so I'm trying to work out ways to make that happen. For now, though, all can do is reiterate my wish for a more widespread system that would permit micropayments to specific bits of content.