Audience Engagement Digital Publishing
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“Pushing podcasts to a cinematic level of storytelling”: Luminary aims to become the Netflix of podcasts

The New York Times recently reported that Luminary Media has raised a $100 million in venture funding and tied up with top content creators to launch a subscription-based podcast network.

The news comes on the heels of Spotify’s $340 million acquisition of podcasting companies Gimlet Media and Anchor FM Inc. It represents a growing trend of publishers increasing their investments in podcasting.

“A new phase of growth”

In recent months, major publishers like The Economist, The Washington Post, Vox, and Guardian have added to their podcast offerings, increasing investments with daily shows and dedicated teams. While Luminary is a relatively new player, it has already entered into deals with a host of top creators including Lena Dunham, Trevor Noah, Guy Raz, and Conan O’Brien. Its founders are aiming to “push the medium into a new phase of growth.”

We want to become synonymous with podcasting in the same way Netflix has become synonymous with streaming. I know how ambitious that sounds. We think it can be done, and some of the top creators in the space agree.

Matt Sacks, Co-founder, and CEO, Luminary

Luminary will be launching in June with an $8 per month fee which is higher compared to the other popular paid alternative, Stitcher Premium that costs $4.99 a month.

Luminary’s paid subscribers will have access to over 40 exclusive and ad-free shows. The platform will also host around 600,000 free shows (with ads) that are available elsewhere.

“Enough room for multiple offerings”

It’s a challenging space to be in, to say the least. There is no dearth of high quality and free podcasts. Plus with publishers increasingly moving to subscriptions to generate revenues, it may become tougher to get consumers to pay up for yet another service.

However, Sacks is confident. In an interview with the Times, he said, “Just like in the premium television space, there is more than enough room for multiple offerings to thrive.”

What sets Luminary apart is our exclusive content right off the bat. Nobody comes close.

Matt Sacks, Co-founder, and CEO, Luminary

Comparisons to Netflix and premium television keep coming up in conversations about Luminary. Tony Award-winning actor, playwright, screenwriter, and director John Cameron Mitchell, who has signed an exclusive deal with the company, told the Times, “I’m very interested in pushing podcasts to a cinematic level of storytelling.”

“Premium content rises up”

What does that indicate about the future of podcasting? Could it go in the direction of streaming TV with original series and subscription tiers? Consumers are already paying for watching movies and shows on TV and the web, will they do the same for podcasts?

According to investor, corporate advisor and TechCrunch columnist Eric Peckham, “The upcoming wave of podcasts crafted to be more like TV shows than radio shows is what could bring tens of millions new listeners into the podcast market.”

He adds, “We know consumers in the West are willing to pay subscriptions for film/TV and for ad-free streaming music, so why not for podcast streaming? New content formats often start free, have lagging monetization, then as the audience grows enough and creators experiment enough, premium content rises up that people are willing to pay for.”

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