But one of the major advantages which has set them apart for me is that they aren't as advertising dependent as so many of their alternatives.
Avoiding ads makes it easier for them to be independent, and able to report without fear of corporations withdrawing their support.
It's also just much more pleasant to listen to. I try to avoid advertising as much as possible, and it's sad that they are one more place it's invading.
I know they've had corporate sponsors for some time, but the podcasts really feel like an escalation.
I don't blame them; I'm sure they felt this was the best choice for them to grow and survive, but it feel like a disappointing loss.
It's unfortunate that internet people have been falsely conditioned to believe the people who create the media we consume shouldn't be paid.
Oh, but you will gladly pay for quality, ad-free content, you say?
Unfortunately, based on the numbers I've seen at media companies I've freelanced for, this only works out for a tiny minority of creators. Unless you are the NYT (housing 1000+ journalists) or Ben Thompson (an outlier with a super high income audience), the number of listeners/readers/etc willing to pay is astonishingly low.
When people say they will pay in surveys, most of them are flat out lying. Here's a recent example:
It turns out, a vast majority of people who complain about ads will not put their money where their mouth is.
I say bravo to NPR for looking out for the sustainability of their excellent work. I happily listen to ads to sustain their content. I have full confidence they will continue to report with the same independence they've always had.
You say (when linking to the blog post)
> When people say they will pay in surveys, most of them are flat out lying. Here's a recent example:
What the blog post says is that actually, the pre-launch survey closely aligned with the outcome:
> The really comical part is that I should have known, and I could have known. Actually, one could argue that I did know.
> Pre-launch polling on social media almost perfectly predicted the outcome. Here’s the tweet I used to test the waters, which had nearly 18,000 respondents. The results were:
> 72% – No, I wouldn’t donate.
> 24% – I would give $5 per month.
> 4% – I would give $10 or more per month.
> The comments on this post are really worth reading. The feedback was almost entirely positive towards ads and almost entirely “meh” about fan-supported. In other words, the answer to my question was clear from the outset: 99% of my listeners are totally OK with ads, and many of them look forward to finding new products and services through my sponsor reads.
The blog post's conclusion very much appears to be that—in hindsight—people were honest from the outset!
On the lying about willingness to pay reference, I was referring to actual data I've seen, which I posted below. This was from a media company I worked at (reposted here for context):
1) we surveyed users willingness to pay for a premium, ad-free content product
2) 32% said they would pay $1 or more per month
3) we launched said product
4) under 4% converted at $1 per month
"Special! $1 a month for 12 months". Well, that's $1 per month, that's perfectly affordable... except it's going to auto-renew at a mystery rate that you won't tell me.
My other recently seen favorites include, "Only $X for ultra premium content". What the hell is "ultra premium content"? Is it possible for me to still be walled out of parts of the newspaper? Are these like editorials (who cares) or like major stories?
"Only $1 a week". Ok, that works out to something like $52 a year but why in the world are you giving me a batshit insane term like weekly payments?
Patreon, Nextflix, and many others have this figured out: "It's $x a month. It'll stay $x a month for the immediate future and we'll let you know about price increases in advance." Done. Don't charge me by section, don't charge me in weird terms, don't throw opaque special offers at me.
It's a fair statement that most people won't pay, but that is totally different point that the one you made in the previous comment.
Your prior comment was clear and direct. You stated that many people are flat out lying (with your emphasis on the word "lying"). Then you linked a blog post as an example of that.
I agree with the thesis that many people will not pay for non-ad supported content. I don't know that I agree that people are lying or dishonest about it. I certainly disagree with the characterization that they are flat out _lying_ about it.
 - https://graphtreon.com/patreon-creators/podcasts
What you see on Graphtreon is the number of patrons, meaning podcast listeners who decided to donate to the podcast through Patreon.
I don't know what the average conversion rate is, but I think it's safe to assume that patrons only make up a small percentage of total audience, I'd be surprised if it was higher than 5%.
In fact, it's probably significantly lower than 5%, my guess would be that it's more like 1%.
So, your assumption that it doesn't take more than 2000 listeners before you can pull in a livable wage is wrong, but maybe you meant patrons.
It depends on what your definition of a livable wage is, but my guess would be that you'd probably need an audience of at least 100,000 podcast listeners to make $5000/month on Patreon (assuming 1% conversion rate and an average donation of $5).
Also, it seems to me that you are confused as to how Patreon model works, creators who use Patreon don't put their main content behind a paywall, they simply throw in some extra goodies for patrons.
If the baseline is that ads can provide enough revenue, and you're specifically paying to remove the ads, then that's a much smaller number. He has what, two ad slots, repeated at start and end? If that's $30 CPM at two per week, that's 26 cents a month.
The minimum subscription was $9.95 a month.
As somewhat of a tangent, I would like a way to pay $5 a month in a single spot and have it be apportioned to all the podcasts I listened to in that time, but that doesn't really exist as a service. Even though that's much more money than my listens are worth in ad revenue.
Wow. I am actually amazed at the disingenuousness of that twisted interpretation of what you quoted.
People will pay for what they value. The value of media has been utterly destroyed by ads. Ads are the problem.
... because people won't pay for media. is it because they don't value them?
Nowhere did I see in the OPs post that they believe people who create content shouldn't be paid. NPR is a publicly funded non profit which also gets revenues from corporate sponsors, endowments and foundations and this model has served them and their listeners well.
The OPs concerns as I understand it is one that is grounded in the excitement surrounding this new windfall of ad revenue from podcasts and it's possible effects on an organization that proudly proclaims their independence.
Lastly aside from a couple of programs(All Things Considered and Morning Edition) NPR is not a content creator. They purchase content from PRI, WNYC Studios, and American Public Media. They are more of distributor and reseller of content.
Most of the media we consume is probably detrimental to us, even before advertising is factored in. It's not a bad thing when people have to make a choice in whether or not something is worth the money, and end up deciding it's not. It seems like people are better able to understand monetary costs than time or brain space costs.
As an aside, some of the highest quality content I've found is free and without advertisements (for example, the Ottoman History Podcast or the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean Podcast).
The vast majority of people don't pay, but there seem to be enough people paying that it at least balances the ad dependency of a number of creators. I might be biased, but most of the content I really didn't want to go away or bend backward to get sponsors seem to have successful followings (99pi, the whole radiotopia rooster, Hello Internet, CGP Grey, a few minor ones like rebuild.fm)
I think more and more the creative process could start by kickstarting the project and gauge how much of a public there is willing to pay for it, before going full steam ahead.
I don't think this is true at all. Nobody thinks musicians shouldn't be paid, but until Spotify everyone was downloading music.
> Oh, but you will gladly pay for quality, ad-free content, you say?
I would definitely pay. I just don't want to pay for every single article I read by having going through a signup flow. Usually I can't even pay for a single article because you need to get a subscription.
I would easily pay €10+ a month for a place where I can read all the articles I want from all the publishers I'm interested in. However, like in the video business, this doesn't seem feasible. So you end up with multiple subscriptions just to get the 1 piece of content a month that you want to consume from either of them.
Spotify is hardly an example of successful funding for artists, though. They’re just as exploitative if not more so than the industry was before.
This is even worse IMO. People think musicians deserve to be paid but still manage to rationalize taking from them without paying instead.
No matter how many times this pans out, people try and convince themselves all netizens are altruistic, with the means to bankroll content creators. That just doesn't measure up to reality.
I mean if I happily give away all my blog posts for free under creative commons, why is it unreasonable to expect most other people to do the same? People who derive value from the Internet should just create one or two things per year to give back, whether that's a blog post, an app or website, open source software, or something else.
I do think there is a need for a small percentage of people to create content full time. But at the same time right now there is also a huge oversupply of content, and we'd probably all be better off if 95% of it went away.
Don’t get paid, not shouldn’t. The issue isn’t the reader’s lack of willingness to pay here lol.
I guess in the past there might have been something called NPR which did not have ads?
One time I was driving in the car at just the right time and heard Wait Wait Don't Tell Me on the radio for the first time (as opposed to in podcast form) and was startled that there were ads. Now of course there are a ton of ads, but I remember being surprised by how NPR seemed to be a holdout to the Mailchimp/Casper/Blue Apron-fueled ad craze.
Found this review  a few years ago and was glad to find I wasn't the only one who couldn't stand that apparently much beloved show.
But yes, the bloom's off the rose. The show is now 21 years old, it's an institution itself, is no longer a refreshing change-up from normal programming, and comes across as increasingly crass rather than clever or irreverant. Worst was realising that several of the panelists were far better in their off-show personae than on, a fact and awareness which had failed to penetrate WWDTM's format and shtick itself.
I stopped listening years ago.
Big thumbs up to production staff of "How I Built This". Huge thumbs down on
Guy "exaggerated incredulity" Raz.
Also on the shit list: moth radio hour and ted radio hour (damn you Guy Raz!)
And a resounding meh to that most sacred of NPR institutions: car talk.
Neither funny nor helpful.
Personally, I don't much mind it. Gotta pay the bills somehow.
Maybe depends where you are, but NPR is big here in central Iowa (iowapublicradio.org). I think it's pretty big in Minnesota as well.
or I am spoiled by the BBC.
Business doesn’t have the power to take money, property, liberty, or my life.
Business has the power to do all of those things. And has _frequently_ exercised that power through out history.
The fact that it isn't right now (or is to a lesser and less obvious degree) is the result of government exercising its power to keep business in check. Those laws that government is still (half heartedly) enforcing are a hold over of a time when the people had more control of the government, and business less.
...also, while we're here... what cultural interests are opposed to your very existence? Genuinely curious. As someone of Jewish heritage, I'm well familiar with ideologies opposed to my very existence, but I'm curious what specific interests you're referring to and on what basis you believe they are opposed to your existence.
Again, I am not saying that it is a majority of Americans but because of the electoral college and the allocation of 2 seats in the Senate regardless of population, that viewpoint has an outsized voice right now.
I use to listen religiously for about 3 years, until the 2016 election. The way they talked about the democratic primary, it was very very obvious they were biased towards favoring Hillary. They were telling outright lies about Bernie and his policies. Haven't listened to them since, but I've seen stories about how much worse they've gotten. I think they're mostly funded by the Koch's.
My view on public broadcasting is that its culture is CLEARLY left-leaning. That is, I don't think you could get hired and build a career in that world if you were known to be politically conservative or libertarian. Subconcious bias is worn on their sleeves, and they do tend to ensure that it always gets the last word (e.g. see virtually any interview segment involving gun control or illegal immigration).
However, I also think they TRY to be objective in their content. Even if there may be bias in story selection or story structure, I think they try to provide the building blocks so that you can think for yourself. One POV might consistently get the last word, but the other perspective(s) are represented in a segment.
Anyway, this topic and thread were on my mind, because I happen to be in the middle of reading the book "Listener Supported", a book on NPR history from longtime insider Jack Mitchell. The last section in the book deals with criticisms of bias that NPR has received over the years.
Mitchell is pretty candid in acknowledging public broadcasting's progressive roots and culture. However, I was surprised that most of the discussion involved attacks on NPR from the LEFT! A lot of people feel the same way as parent comment. Not that NPR is culturally right-wing, in the same manner as Fox News. But rather that its bias is not sufficiently left-wing. Or that it's a "trojan horse", appearing leftist yet subject to manipulation and too much a servant of the status-quo.
This perspective is interesting to me, if a bit frightening. Particularly reading the claim "they're mostly funded by the Koch's", and not seeing a SINGLE person on Hacker News counter that 8 hours later. In reality, David Koch has only made donations to the PBS show "Nova", has never donated a dime to NPR, and this is such a prevalent fake news trope that Snopes has had to cover it:
You think about this sort of thing being right-wing material, spread by old people on Facebook. It's sobering to see its inverse here.
61 percent of Americans, 42 percent of Republicans, approve of labor unions
66 percent of Americans think money and wealth should be distributed more evenly.
80 percent of Americans think some corporations don’t pay their fair share of taxes.
78 percent think some wealthy people don’t pay their fair share of taxes.
76 percent believe the wealthiest Americans should pay higher taxes.
60 percent of registered voters believe corporations pay too little in taxes.
87 percent of Americans say it is critical to preserve Social Security, even if it means increasing Social Security taxes paid by wealthy Americans.
67 percent of Americans support lifting the cap to require higher-income workers to pay Social Security taxes on all of their wages.
For their variance from the new zeitgeist they are currently being labeled racists, sexists, etc. Would you stay consistent with your argument, call them liberal, and accept them knowing that? Not many do, especially not liberal politicians and media, which is why they are voting the other way.
They didn't leave their values behind, the liberal party did.
If you look at where the newly appearing votes went in big wave elections (notably Obama) a big chunk of those votes are left leaning.
Senate representation is also skewed.
One sided view hurts all people.
Americans continue to use Democrats and liberal interchangeably, even though Democrats are no longer liberal on most issues.
Also, a “This American Life” episode about illegal immigrants working at a chicken plant (?) in Alabama single handedly made me see a few of the points that I thought were just right wing talking points.
Of course I don’t agree with the demonization of “other”. I am a minority who grew up in the south and whose parents grew up during the tail end of Jim Crow.
And before anyone replies about how horrible this study was, the author explicitly said that public policy should not be based on his study and advocated more spending on education and other safety net ideas.
I give them major props just for attempting. It's obvious on many of their interviews with more right wing guests that the reporters are more or less gritting their teeth to get through it, but they do attempt to let both sides make their voices heard.
But like everything else in digital disruption that seeks to “make the world a better place,” there are unintended consequences.
NPR’s immense success with podcasting could come at the expense of local public radio affiliates around the country. They pay great sums of your donated dollars to NPR (and American Public Media and Public Radio International and BBC, etc — NPR is sort of the Kleenex of public radio in the United States) for the rights to shows a whole lot of Americans still listen to the ol’ fashioned way in their cars or at work over the air.
Eventually we’ll listen to only streamed or internet-based content, I’m assuming. So the question is what happens to the affiliates most people are far less familiar with than the NPR brand?
(“I heard it on NPR.” You technically heard it on KQED, or KUT, or WGBH, or whatever.)
One suggestion for their future is to take advantage of the strong community trust and ties many of them enjoy and beef up local coverage where newspapers are fading away. Stream the content and broadcast it over the air.
Share resources between stations like several have done in Texas for the morning program Texas Standard. There are numerous stations in other states doing this or attempting to do it. And of course, be savvy with social, and even consider experimenting with targeted ads and paid (or donated) search.
Support these efforts, or better yet, join them. Digital affords an enormous amount of local potential with a relatively small team and budget where newspapers traditionally faced gargantuan printing and operational costs.
I think IPR used to maybe be several different stations that conglomerated a decade or so ago. Not sure.
Here in Minnesota, Minnesota Public Radio is one of the few places that does detailed stories on rural area outside the cities.
Suffice it to say, NPR doesn't own any of these companies or stations.
CPB: Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
NPR: National Public Radio.
APM: American Public Media.
PRI: Public Radio International.
PRX: Public Radio Exchange.
I won't go into histories and distinctions, but those are the major organisations within the US.
From my understanding, podcast creators have to track down and get potential sponsors to sign on (if you're lucky and already have a big audience maybe they come to you). Then you splice in the audio of their ad into your podcast.
Whereas I've thought that an easier model for everyone would be to have an ad service that automatically serves ads into your podcast. Similar to how web site advertising currently works. As a creator you simply tag locations in your podcast where you want ads to appear and the duration of the ads. You also give the ad service a set of key words it uses to serve the most relevant ads to listeners. No chasing money and negotiating payments. Just sign up to the service, tag the audio stream, and provide relevant keywords.
An argument against this way of using ads in podcasts is that you lose control over the content and quality of the ads. I think we've all seen the broad range of quality in ads seen on websites...
The other revenue model is a packaged subscription model through some kind of syndicate. It's difficult to get people to pay for a single podcast, but if you packaged up a few under a small monthly fee maybe keen podcast listeners would be more willing to pay. Could be a good way to capture people who want an ad free experience, but don't want to pay for each podcast individually.
Perhaps I'm not aware and these models have been tried already?
Don't worry, your widely known ideas for making podcasts bad have already been considered and implemented.
> Perhaps I'm not aware and these models have been tried already?
Yes. The former is DI / DAI through podcasting platforms (rather than the more artisanal and self-hosed podcasts, whether it's baked-in or DI). The latter is subscription platforms like Acast Access, Spotify (which bought several podcasting studios like Gimlet and Parcast) or Luminary, or "premium podcasts" features (with either subs or one-off buys).
Example of podcast subscription to listen ad-free https://www.stitcher.com/premium
For radio shows https://tunein.com/premium/
How can NPR not ultimately be captured by corporate interests with for-profit sponsorships?
But professional ethics? Fox News, MSNBC, and those other infotainment gutters are bad, but NPR is insidious: it's biased toward the class of established political powers and corporations, like a Pravda for America but dishonest about it.
I think they do a good job of being objective and have a good track record for being highly factual.
Plus, they've been sponsored by many other organization, such as Earth Law Center (something like that). Does that mean that they are captured by them too?
With that being said, your claim is 100% complete and utter bullshit, unsupported by even your own source.
EDIT: Ah, here is some remnant of the story. NPR was using a VoA reporter to push the State Department line on Haiti:
...and here is her LinkedIn.
Oh, you mean Terry Gross' excellent and astonishingly comprehensive interviews with virtually all movers and shakers of the last 3-4 decades?
That's what I like about NPR the most. Prairie home companion, wait-wait don't tell me... BORING. it's time to change the station.
BBC, RT, France24, Deutsche Welle, PressTV, and Telesur all exist to promote a state interest. How are NPR and APM different?
If you want subtlety, watch France24 English. If you want the propaganda arm of a dying empire, BBCWS is for you.
Support is mainly for radio streams though, more work is needed to make it work on podcasts.
as a former public radio listener, who grew increasingly tired of finding something else to listen to during the all-too-regular fund drives, i very much appreciate the ability to skip forward on podcasts.
i'm also happier paying for good audio content than i am willing to pay for a dozen different news site subscriptions. my regular day is full of visual-attention-required tasks, and having an audio-only source of information and entertainment is worth paying for.
it's nice to know that it appears to be a successful business model for NPR.
"We're just going to keep this silent drive going until we get the money!" ... A month later "Come on people, going to have to do a real pledge drive since no one is paying up..."
When I already have the volume adjusted so I can hear the podcast over local background noise, the commercials are genuinely painful. Especially when I'm wearing earbuds and can't instantly lower the volume.
I'm sure they have reasons, but it really pisses me off.
I also love listening to the German counterpart of NPR/ SeekingAlpha > AlleAktien.de ( https://www.alleaktien.de )