The Netflixification of podcasts
A new podcast network launches today with $100m in funding. There’s nothing too remarkable about that in 2019, but its what Luminary doesn’t
have that’s most notable.
The New York Times and Spotify have refused the startup permission to include popular podcasts like The Daily, Reply All, Homecoming, and any podcasts created with the Anchor app that Spotify recently acquired.
One reason for this is that Luminary’s app, in addition to playing most free-to-access podcasts, also has a network of its own exclusive content. For £6.99 (or $7.99) per month you can access original shows and podcasts that have moved over to only being available on the app, including one of my favourites, Love + Radio.
So the NYT and Spotify withholding their shows can be seen as retaliation for Luminary withholding its own shows from everyone else.
Luminary isn’t alone in wanting to pursue a strategy of exclusive podcasts. The BBC’s Sounds app
has exclusive content, but I believe Luminary is the first time shots have been fired in the US market.
And while those of use who have been listening to podcasts for well over ten years may feel distressed about the idea of podcasting becoming more commercialised and less open, the fact it’s happening reflects the growth of the medium.
Luminary’s gamble is that podcasting will become like TV, where many people are willing to pay monthly subscriptions to access exclusive content. Can it can become the ‘Netflix for podcasts?’
“I really believe that podcasting has way more than enough room to go around,” Sacks says. “There will be multiple successful companies. But we look at Netflix, and we look at Spotify, we look at SiriusXM, and lots of businesses as role models, and lots of people do things very, very well. We’re learning from all of that, and then trying to apply it in a very podcast-focused way.”
Podcasts have moved beyond their humble, open beginnings. But rather than resist this or mourn the past, I think longtime podcast listeners should be happy that more audio is being produced, and more people are being rewarded for making good quality content. Sure, you might not being able to listen to it all for free, or all in the same app, but you can’t do that on TV so on the whole I think it’s a net(flix) gain for us all.