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“Netflix for Podcasts,” once again

On Brew, a Y Combinator-backed startup.

Over at Y Combinator, another startup, called Brew, is working the whole “Netflix for Podcasting” angle, but with a different price point ($5), a different supply chain set (“upstart podcasters and rising stars”), and a specific pay-out scheme that pays participating publishers according to unique listens (as opposed to Luminary’s ability to provide gobs and gobs of upfront capital, plus performance earn-outs).

Here’s the TechCrunch write-up, and virtually every inch of the argument I laid out re: Luminary can be applied to this situation. To whittle the argument down to its core: building the initial paying user base past a point of critical mass is incredibly difficult — Netflix initially did that off a non-exclusive content model — and differentiation by curation is even more difficult, because ~taste~. (There’s a floating, tertiary argument I’d like to make one day: doesn’t Luminary remind you of a magazine?? Okay, maybe that’s a stretch.)

Once again: I’m not saying that this won’t work, or that there isn’t value in a paid podcast platform play somewhere. But my whole thing is that there needs to be some specificity; I go to this platform because I can literally not get the thing anywhere else. The potential downside, of course, is a podcast world spurred on by competitive and inefficient paywalling, leading to a balkanization of the ecosystem.

Two related stories…

  • From Fast Company: “Patreon, which is valued at a reported $450 million… is announcing Patreon Lite, Pro, and Premium as a means to tailor fit its services to the needs of the platforms’ 100,000-plus creators.”
  • From Variety: “Nearly half (47%) of U.S. consumers say they’re frustrated by the growing number of subscriptions and services required to watch what they want, according to the 13th edition of Deloitte’s annual Digital Media Trends survey.” I suppose you can pair this with Helen Rosner’s recent Twitter thread on everybody have a paid newsletter and man do I not have the disposable income for all that.