I had an interesting conversation yesterday with someone heading up an initiative to get podcasts on mobile phones. There are lots of companies moving into this space and I have spoken with many of them. What was particularly interesting about this conversation was we spent a lot of time dealing with the “hypotheticals” of the content and what others could do with it, based on copyright or Creative Commons restrictions. Can you sell ads around it? How would podcasters react? What if the carrier charged to receive the podcast? What if they charged a monthly subscription fee per podcast to use their network etc.? As you might imagine, it got technical and frankly was quite interesting.
Then today I see this article from Business Week online. Here is the section that caught my attention:
And for $600, an advertiser can become the exclusive sponsor of a particular podcast for 30 days, says Pod2Mobile co-founder Brad Zutaut. As the business picks up, Pod2Mobile plans to share its ad revenues with podcasters that sign up to be in its directory.
Huh? Someone is selling exclusive sponsorships around podcasts for 30-day periods and the podcaster is not participating in the revenue? Or at least they are not participating until “business picks up”? I can only hope the reporter misquoted Mr. Zutaut. Does anyone know from firsthand experience if this is actually taking place now? (One of the shows I produce is in his directory and I know we did not “sign up.”)
Regardless, once again we see an Advertising Aggregation/Distribution plan underselling the value. Lets assume they split the revenue 50/50 with a podcaster when “business picks up”. And for arguments sake lets assume they can sell out the entire year at that rate. That is a whopping $300 per month or $3600 per year to the podcaster to have an “exclusive sponsor” over this mobile distribution network. Those numbers are abysmal – assuming 4 episodes per month, the podcaster is receiving $75 per episode for the “exclusive” sponsor. Can the podcaster sell sponsorships for the show for its traditional distribution via RSS and the web? Will Mr. Zutaut’s company remove those sponsor messages to preserve the “exclusive sponsor” position that his company has sold? Does the podcaster have to produce two versions? Is any of this worth it for $75 bucks? Ugh, has anyone thought this through? From the issue of the podcast publisher’s consent and licensing for the sponsorship to the potential hassle factor for so little revenue – this whole thing can make your head spin. Please tell me this is like a Three’s Company episode – it is all just a big misunderstanding.