Garrek Stemo

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More Podcast Paywalls

Tuesday, October 31, 2023  ⚓︎

The Economist has moved all of its podcasts behind a paywall except for its daily news show The Intelligence. This is disappointing because I somewhat regularly would share episodes with friends who don’t subscribe to the newspaper. It also means that the analogy of podcasts being like radio that you download no longer holds. Another idea recedes into the past. I get the move — the advertising market is drying up and many independent podcasts are moving toward membership models. Spotify has pushed the industry towards subscription and now Apple Podcasts has gotton on board. Still, if The Economist is going to move its content behind a paywall, at least they have done it the right way. You can still use any podcast player to listen to shows. They provide a subscriber RSS feed in addition to hooking into the subscriber features of the big podcast apps. This is definitely the way to go and I’m glad they are continuing to use RSS instead of making up their own to do it.

Previously I posted about The New York Times launching its own audio app. I still think this is doomed to fail. They have since launched more shows that are available only on the app. I don’t know their numbers, but I suspect they won’t see a lot of growth in the long run. Thinking big picture, the internet is now going through a phase of decentralization. This is most apparent in the social media space with the rise of new microblogging platforms like Mastodon and Threads — and more importantly ActivityPub which allows them all to interconnect — and the slowly disintegrating Twitter/X. Podcasts have always used use-it-anywhere RSS feeds and I don’t see that changing any time soon.