NY Times plans deployment of podcast paywalls in hybrid subscription model

The New York Times is planning to use paywalls to limit free listening to its podcasts. This according to an exclusive report in The Wall Street Journal (HERE).

In a correction from earlier descriptions of the plan, the Times will not make all podcast listening exclusive to subscribers. Rather, the paywall will be deployed in different ways for different podcasts. For “The Daily,” a popular morning news podcast, the three most recent episodes will be available to non-subscribers. Back catalog of that show will be firewalled for subscribers.

In the case of Serial, a leading True Crime podcast, WSJ reports that new episodes will be exclusively available to subscribers for an initial period.

The guiding principle here seems to be that a historical documentary podcast (Serial) can reasonably be subscription-only for any episode, while an important news program (The Daily) should for the public good be freely available, at least for a few days.

WSJ reporting indicates that these maneuvers are the start of a larger strategy of driving subscription revenue through the Times’ entire podcast effort: “The Times is expected to gradually move more shows behind the paywall with the goal of eventually tying most, if not all, to a subscription service. It has also discussed making archives of its shows available only to subscribers, though those plans are fluid.” (WSJ)

Distribution outlets are apparently unaffected, at least as surmised by WSJ’s unnamed interviews: “Subscribers are expected to be able to listen to the shows across podcast platforms such as Spotify and Apple Podcasts.”

Brad Hill