Podcasting’s International Subscription Revenue Opportunity

Podcasting's International Subscription Revenue Opportunity
Photo illustration VIP+: Adobe Stock

Podcast producers looking to generate subscription revenue from territories outside the U.S. may be well served in targeting listeners in Indonesia, the UAE and India. 

That’s suggested by pollster YouGov, which found in a recent global survey that those were the top three-ranking territories in terms of respondents who said that they listen to podcasts and are interested in paying for podcasts within the next 12 months.  

YouGov conducted its global survey between Jan. 18 and Feb. 4 among 18,855 adults aged 18+ across 18 countries. The graphic below reflects the attitudes of the 10,768 survey respondents across all countries who said they listen to podcasts. 

A path to international subscription revenue for podcast companies might be Apple Podcasts, which launched subscriptions last June in over 170 countries, including all the territories in the graphic above.  

A U.S.-based podcast producer could launch a subscription channel on Apple Podcasts and generate subscription revenue from that newly launched channel in territories like the UAE and Indonesia. 

Other companies, including Podimo and Luminary, currently offer podcast subscription services in countries outside the U.S. 

Still, certain content producers may hesitate in launching in certain global territories over others due to the varying degrees of internet freedom across the world. For example, the UAE’s restrictions on internet freedom might make it more difficult for media companies to boost awareness in that region. And China is an even more populous country that has even less internet freedom than the UAE, per nonpartisan advocacy group Freedom House. 

Still, any additional subscription revenue coming from outside the U.S. to supplement the ad revenue coming from podcasts should be welcomed by digital audio producers.  

Subscription revenue has recently become a bigger focus in the podcast industry due to other players as well. Spotify in August enabled all U.S. podcast creators to charge subscriptions to the podcasts on its platform. VIP+ earlier in March analyzed exclusive data from YouGov that suggested podcast producers looking to generate subscription revenue should focus on younger demos. 

Podcast producers not interested in chasing subscription revenue may be more immediately interested in creating shows that are localized to non-U.S. territories. 

These types of companies should take note of the UAE, Mexico and India, which stood as the top three countries when ranked by survey respondents who noted listening to podcasts once or a few times a day. 

Keep in mind that Mexico and India are expected to rank among the top 10 countries by 2022 population, according to United Nations projections aggregated by World Population Review

Additionally, tech platforms have recently indicated that they are interested in courting more podcast listeners to their platforms. YouTube is offering grants of up to $300,000 to podcast networks to help podcast producers create filmed versions of their programs, Bloomberg reported in early March. And Twitter was recently spotted developing what appears to be a tab that would allow users to listen to podcasts on the platform. 

These types of moves are likely to help accelerate the growth of the overall podcast listener base globally, and that should encourage podcast producers to increase their content output in the year ahead.