Media Giants Will ‘Discover’ The Power Of Releasing Podcasts Early In 2022

 One of the more popular press releases in podcast land during 2021 was the “X is moving to Y in an exclusive deal,” typically with Spotify. I’ve already written about my feelings of taking a show and leaving behind the community nature of podcasting, I’m curious to see just how many of these exclusives will stay with their new partners when the contracts are up.

For these exclusive deals to continue, they need to work for both sides. They need to bring new listeners and increase listening hours to the platforms, and the shows need to retain their reach and perhaps influence in their own communities.. Even if the exclusive deal ends, the shows are not going to delist themselves. They would lose all their listeners given Spotify is a house with no way to discover show RSS files to export them to another podcast client.

If you want a prediction for the new year, I can see the money and the volume of podcast exclusive deals decreasing.

In its place I can see more of the Silicon Valley Megacorps adopting Amazon Music’s approach of signing up shows to have a limited window of exclusivity. Be it making episodes available earlier on the service than on the public feed for ongoing shows or offering a members-only binge listen to all the episodes of a serialised story that is released weekly to the pubic, this offers a neat corporate solution to getting a show without ‘buying’ it all up lock, stock, and barrel.

It’s going to be an exciting way to engage with your favourite podcast, it’s going to allow the Megacorps to bolster their own brand with other people’s content, it’s going to provide stability to your favourite show. It’s a brave new world-

Hold on, aren’t we indie podcasters already doing this?

Alongside bonus podcasts or extended editions, the ‘early release’ of a podcast is one of most popular ways to reward listener support through membership services such as Patreon.

Looking though my own favourites list, I can see that the ‘M*A*S*H Matters Podcast‘ offers early access to each episode (along with shout-outs and stickers) to supporters; ‘Women At Warp’ offers bonus podcasts to its supporters; and over at ‘Oh God What Now’ you can get a double whammy as it not only offers early access to the podcast, but bonus content from that week’s recording and other events.

The Megacorps may be able to run podcasts as loss leaders to gain monthly memberships to wider services like streaming music subscriptions or Amazon Prime memberships. Just remember one thing and ask one question.

Remember they are not bringing something new and exciting to the table, they’re just switching to a model that have served the community well for over sixteen years. And ask how many of these windowed shows will use an RSS feed, and how many will lock the ‘exclusivity window’ away in a proprietary app.