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New podcast data from Acast founders reveals appetite for alternative media monetisation models via Sesamy

Press Release · via Sesamy ·

Sesamy, the Stockholm-headquartered platform for monetising digital content from the founders of Acast, reveals new data findings from its initial partnerships in the podcasting industry across Sweden, the UK, and Italy.

Podcasts are now a major part of the media landscape. Whereas traditional media outlets may have, in the past, considered a podcast as an addition to supplement more traditional content types, the skyrocketing popularity of podcasts has necessitated that publishers take them more seriously, and direct more efforts into creating a high-quality podcast offering.

Following the industry-changing innovations like Acast and Spotify growing out of the region, the Nordics are now seeing experimentation in how digital content is monetised, especially in light of dwindling ad revenues and consumers facing ‘subscription fatigue’.

Partnership with Kvartal: partially locked podcast episodes driving subscriptions

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Sesamy has partnered with leading Swedish independent media publication, Kvartal, to transform the magazine’s podcast model. Kvartal’s existing podcasts continue to be free to access, but the change was implemented by making a segment of certain podcast episodes available to subscribers only. This adaptation of the model led to a jump in subscribers, proving that a publication’s podcast listeners are potential digital subscribers.

Non-subscribers, when reaching the locked part of the episode, are directed to a dedicated page offering them a subscription. Kvartal data reveals that 15.8% of new subscribers came through this gateway over just five weeks at the beginning of 2024, proving the significance of podcasts as a funnel for gaining new subscribers. This compares to a conversion rate of only 6.8% via podcasts previously (October 2022 - December 2023).

Ludde Hellberg, CEO of Kvartal comments, “We have strong reason to believe that our premium podcasts are a far bigger driver of conversion to subscription than even these numbers indicate.

With regards to retention, practically all our paying subscribers become active and continuous listeners of our premium podcast feed, that is only available to subscribers, and that we’ve created in collaboration with Sesamy.”

Data findings from alternative podcast monetisation models

Beyond its partnership with Kvartal, Sesamy’s collaborations across Sweden, the UK, and Italy show that there are more options than simply relying on ad funding, or completely locking a podcast behind a paywall.

Data collected across over 30 podcast shows utilising Sesamy, over a period of 8 months, reveals that:

  • The average rate for paid single podcast episode purchasers to convert to subscribers is 10.1%
  • Interestingly the conversion rate is higher for female-hosted podcasts (12.8%) compared to male-hosted podcasts (8.1%)
  • 85% of subscribers choose to pay for an entire season in a single transaction in advance; the remaining 15% choose to pay for an entire season by monthly instalments
  • The median price for a single podcast episode purchased was 22,75 SEK (1.95 Euro or 1.67 GBP)
  • The most preferred payment methods are: Swish (Venmo) 69%; Apple Pay, Google Pay, credit card payment 31%
  • Early morning is the best time of day to release a podcast episode.

The data shows the benefits of diversifying podcast monetisation, rather than relying on the outdated ad-funded model which does not adequately remunerate podcasters, as it is reliant on receiving thousands of listens in order to gain profit. Sesamy’s technology allows consumers a single-purchase option, should they wish to access ‘special’ paywalled episodes, as well as options to buy ‘bundles’ of episodes, or - when it is best value for money for them - subscriptions. In these instances, podcast creators keep a much higher cut of the revenue than with the ad model, so that quality content creation can be supported going forward. In addition, alternative models include restricting segments of episodes for subscribers only (as is the case with Kvartal’s podcasts) or placing episodes behind a free registration barrier (eg. asking listeners to provide some basic information to access the content) so that production teams can learn more about their audience’s demographics, and harness these data insights for ad revenues as well as leading to listener conversions.

Sesamy’s technology enables frictionless payment options that allow listeners to smoothly complete any single-purchase transactions, removing any inconvenience on the part of the consumer. The platform offers publishers a unique dashboard to gain greater insight and visibility across the consumer activity of their subscribers and listeners, to make better informed decisions and to better understand how their business is performing.

Måns Ulvestam, CEO and Co-founder of Sesamy, says: “The traditional system of ad-funded podcasts should not be the only thing working for creators, and it often creates frustration for listeners. Having realised the limitations of the subscription model in the digital publishing sphere, we realised our idea for offering a smooth process to purchase single articles could also be applied to podcast episodes, offering a complimentary and sustainable model for podcast creators to monetise their content. But we also realised that single purchase alone is not the complete solution; there is a whole range of different ways we can help publishers and podcast producers to evolve their models with Sesamy, to better adapt to the changing landscape where readers and listeners have reached ‘peak subscription’ and ads are no longer the only answer.”

This is a press release which we link to from Podnews, our daily newsletter about podcasting and on-demand. We may make small edits for editorial reasons.

Companies mentioned above:
Acast logoAcastApple logoAppleGoogle logoGoogleSesamy logoSesamySpotify logoSpotify

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