Direct Support & Subscription Fatigue

As I mentioned recently, I’ve been listening to even more podcasts than ever that I’m mostly tooling around the house and doing yard work with all of this spare time. As a result, seeing some of the shows and sites I love start to feel the pinch of reduced ad spending have sparked me to start directly supporting them via membership or donation. Recently, I’ve started to support the sites and podcasts that give me the most joy in these fairly monotonous times: Pewter Report,, Macstories, The Athletic, Stratechery and a few others. All told, it’s about $25/month but I feel like I’m doing my part to keep these folks going.

I’m no behavioral economist but I’ve always wondered what the average difference between the increased brand affinity a subscriber/member feels and the subscription fatigue associated with yet another monthly fee is. I feel like the $5 or so a month I pay to these services, podcasts or sites that give me a ton of joy has an outsized amount of real estate in my head. I love knowing that I’m helping directly support podcasts, apps, websites but I also find myself sweating the relatively small amount that I’m giving them. I know they’re in a bind too – going subscription-only reduces their addressable advertisement market and overall reach, while relying only on “donations” makes that support super elastic.

I’ll be curious to see how much the pandemic-induced ad spending changes the podcasting revenue game. The most positive effect could be additional creativity around revenue generation, ad reads and membership programs, with the least being consolidation, paywalls and more invasive tracking. Let’s hope there’s more innovation in the “positive” areas.

Ok, now what?

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