Lessons learned: How podcasts drive memberships, subscriptions, help subscriber retention, and help with overall audience loyalty.

Image from page 61 of “Bell telephone magazine” (1922) | Internet Archive Book Images | Flickr

[This is a written version of the presentation I gave during the News Impact Summit. Find the presentation and the video from the Summit at the end of this post.]

Exactly three years ago we had a crazy idea in the newsroom and nobody stopped us. While proposing new project ideas for the leadership, I slipped in a suggestion to try this thing The New York Times is doing, a daily news podcast. At that point, the NYT has been doing it for almost…

Steve Huffman had to change in order for Reddit to change. Facebook will never transform unless Zuckerberg's thinking shifts.

📸 by Prateek Katyal on Unsplash

What a week it’s been. After saying this is not a good idea, Facebook will start labeling problematic posts. Despite that, the boycott continues with more and more big brands joining in. Reddit finally banned The_Donald and other 200 hundred subreddits after policy changes. Twitch temporarily banned President Trump’s account for hate speech. And YouTube removed a number of high-profile white supremacist channels, including those belonging to David Duke and Richard Spencer.

Meanwhile, a lot of people online and in the media were discussing possible solutions to this mess:

What comes after coronavirus? Possibly, a world with new habits.

📷 by Adrià Tormo on Unsplash

ℹ️ This piece was originally published in my weekly newsletter on tech, media & podcasting. You can subscribe here >>

What is going to happen after? That question has been bugging me for the last week. We are at a moment when there is no clear end to this situation (yes, COVID-19) and also everyone is saying something different.

Almost after each pandemic, at least since the Plague of Justinian (541–750 AD), there has been a more or less significant shift in society.

The aftermath of the Smallpox outbreak in the 15th — 17th centuries brought eventually modern capitalism. The…

Last December Deloitte published its Technology, Media, and Telecommunications Predictions 2020 and inside you can find a lot of useful data. I was struck by the comparison of global revenue numbers of audiobooks and podcasts.

Headphones + books | Photo by sindrehsoereide from Pixabay
Headphones + books | Photo by sindrehsoereide from Pixabay
by sindrehsoereide from Pixabay

A version of this piece was first published in my weekly newsletter on media, tech, and audio. Subscribe here.

The Deloitte report is pretty comprehensive and has a lot of chapters, the one I am addressing below is on The rise of audiobooks and podcasting.

The report says:

Although the United States in 2018 had 60 percent more podcast listeners than audiobook listeners (21 percent of Americans for podcasts versus 13 percent for audiobooks), podcast revenues for that year were roughly 33 percent lower than for audiobooks (US$500 million compared with US$750 million). This means that each audiobook listener generates…

After months of testing the results are in favor of an embedded Spotify podcast player instead of whichever one you are using now.

Spotify logo in different colors.

Before you say you have your favorite podcast player for embeding into the website, hear me out. I have been running a few tests and the results are promising.

Spotify is growing fast in the podcast realm

Several publishers (e.g. Czech radio, see chart below), podcast companies (see this Voxnest blog on Apple vs. Spotify) and event analysts (recent Morgan Stanley report) say that Spotify has surpassed Apple Podcasts in 2019 as no. 1 podcasting platform.

I will not get into that debate, in short, let's say I disagree, and also you can read better takes from other people on this matter here, here or here.

Let me…

Podcasting has almost gone mainstream in Slovakia, we conducted a big online survey to find out listening habits.

Photo by Malte Wingen on Unsplash.

Exactly one year ago I wrote a blog titled How did we accidentally start a podcast revolution and hit one million downloads. It was a fairly bold statement, but the intention was honest — I was trying to tell the story of how podcasting got going in my country — Slovakia (central Europe).

Now, almost two years into our audio venture at SME.sk I can write for sure that podcasting is not going away and if anything it all has turned into an evolution, which is frankly a better outcome anyone could have hoped for.

Let me first recap a…

Few months ago ‘podcasting’ in Slovakia was basically an unknown term. Now almost every major media outlet has its own podcast.

Recording of our daily news podcast in our new podcasting studio (Photo credit: SME — Jozef Jakubčo).

In October 2017 we launched a daily news podcast and basically no-one knew anything about podcasting among the public. Those who knew considered them niche or outdated. Now, podcasts are new & cool and everyone is trying to be involved. I work for a newspaper (on digital stuff), by “we” I mean a few people involved in the daily life of podcasts at daily SME in Slovakia.

And I believe we have started a podcast revolution. Here's how it happened.

Previous blogs about podcasting

Here is why the podcast revolution has not happened in Europe yet

How we started a daily news podcast and…

Here is what we are learning on the way.

Photo by Milivoj Kuhar on Unsplash

In the last blog I wrote how we started a daily news podcast in Slovakia (at SME.sk), a country where people do not understand what a podcast is, and what we learned in the process.

Three months later, people still ask us what is a podcast and our colleagues can't stop to wonder why did we start such an enterprise when anyone sane would not even think about it.

Now, I can write that podcasting is a thing for us.

Turns out that an audio product you can fairly precisely measure is an interesting ad opportunity for advertisers and loyal…

Photo by neil godding on Unsplash

In Slovakia (central Europe) a daily news podcast is being produced and slowly gains momentum. Here is what we learned.

How do you launch a daily news podcast in a country where most of the population doesn't understand what a podcast is?

Well, you do it and wait what happens. At least that is what we did in October in Slovakia at SME.sk when we launched a daily news podcast — Dobré ráno (Good morning would be the English translation).

European podcasts are waiting for a boost and it may come from Google.


During the last episode of the Check Your Facts episode we have discussed why are podcasts in Europe still pretty under the radar. I mean, it is not like podcasts in US are huge, but people are familiar with them.

Based on the Edison Research numbers 24% of Americans have listened to a podcast in the last month, and 40% have ever listened to one. Unfortunately I could not find any stats for Europe.

But here are a few things to think about.

1) Best podcasts out there are US based

Just try to google…

Dávid Tvrdoň

Journalist / newsletter writer / podcast producer • 📩 weekly tech & media newsletter: https://fwiw.substack.com/welcome • 🌐 info: https://davidtvrdon.com

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store