Can Radio Stations Make Money By Selling Past On-Air Breaks?
October 18, 2016
Radio stations have always made their money by giving their content (the on-air programming) away for free and charging advertisers to be interspersed with that content. While there are other media that do this -- such as broadcast television, YouTube videos, and podcasts -- there are also plenty of examples of platforms that do not give away their content for free, including streaming music services, satellite radio, magazines, newspapers, cable television, subscription video services like Netflix, audiobook services like Audible, and more.
Should radio be exploring revenue models where people pay for content?
Of course, it's possible to put some of your content behind a paywall without putting all of it there. For example, many television networks air their shows in prime time for free, then make them available online for a limited time. After that, viewers pay to access older episodes, either through the station's app directly, or through a service like Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime.
Radio could take a similar approach to its older content. For a long time, Marc Maron, who interviews stand-up comedians and other artists for his WTF podcast, made the last six months of his episodes available to download for free. To access older episodes, you needed to purchase a subscription.
It's easy to see how radio stations -- and in particular, their morning shows -- could employ a similar model. Recent shows could be available for free while older episodes (perhaps divided up into benchmark features, interviews, or other segments) would only be available to paying subscribers.
Monetizing Bonus Material
Another way for radio stations to monetize content would be to produce extra material that is only available for purchase. For example, Slate's podcasts include an additional audio segment which is only available to paying Slate Plus members. By the same token, radio stations could make extended versions of interviews or additional morning show segments available to paying members.
The ways in which radio stations could encourage listeners to pay for content are not limited to these two examples. It would benefit broadcasters to experiment with different ways to charge fans for content, not just advertisers. They might find a new stream of revenue by doing so.
NEXT STEP: With your staff, brainstorm ideas for putting audio content behind a paywall.