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A Look at the Ever-Expanding Podcast Universe
from Left: Jesse Thorn, Ricky Gervais, John Salley, Jimmy Pardo, Matt Belknap, and Bill Simmons (below).
from Left: Jesse Thorn, Ricky Gervais, John Salley, Jimmy Pardo, Matt Belknap, and Bill Simmons (below).


Ads/Sponsorships Hosts read live commercials. Almost all ads have a promo code to track response. Ads on a popular show (2 million monthly downloads) command $25 to $35 per 1,000 impressions. "There are advertisers who spend more than $100,000 a month on one show," says Mark McCrery, CEO of Podtrac.
MommyCast Dixie paper products has sponsored Gretchen Vogelzang and Paige Heninger's show since 2005, paying more than $100,000 annually. It says podcast listeners are 40% more likely to pass on content than other digital moms.
Donations (The NPR Model) Podcasters have often asked listeners to help defray costs by chipping in, but they've become increasingly sophisticated as to how. That means pledge drives, premiums, and recurring monthly donations rather than just one-time gifts.
The Sound of Young America Jesse Thorn hosts a pledge drive for his arts-and-culture show, featuring such twists as a design contest for the T-shirt he gives to donors. Listener support makes up more than 50% of his income, but he says, "I have 20 listeners for every one that pays."
Live Shows Live podcast taping are increasingly a staple of a popular show, offering the opportunity to create a stronger bond with fans and generate additional revenue through ticket sales and merchandise.
Adam Carolla Podcast Live at the Improv Weekly events at comedy clubs and small theaters in Southern California routinely sell out at $25 a ticket. In February, Carolla decided to sell one of the two shows he tapes each night for $2.99.
Subscriptions Name-brand acts, particularly radio stars, can sell on-the-go access. For example, sportscaster Jim Rome and Rush Limbaugh charge fans $6.95 a month for their shows.
Never Not Funny Comedian Jimmy Pardo and Matt Belknap call their podcast "morning radio without the sound effects." Thousands buy 26-episode seasons for $19.99 ($29.98 for video).
The Ricky Gervais Show Gervais converted his popular podcast to TVin an animated series for HBO, which debuted in February.


The middlemen for most podcasts, networks broker ad deals and manage distribution via their servers. Revenue is usually split 50-50 with their members.
Wizzard Media "Not everyone who goes into iTunes looks in the podcasts section," says Rob Walch, VP of podcaster relations, explaining Wizzard Media's turnkey iPhone app. Such shows as Yogamazing ($2.99) and Learn Adobe Creative Suite With Terry White ($1.99) sell the app to extend their reach.
Podtrac The service offers demographic profiling for its 10,000-plus podcasts, in partnership with market researchers TNS and Mediamark. "It's helpful to both publishers and advertisers," says CEO Mark McCrery.
Ace Broadcasting Network In the ramp-up to the network's late-March launch, Adam Carolla added a weekly CarCast; a sportscast, starring former NBA star John Salley; and a parenting show featuring his wife, Lynette, and his former radio sidekick Teresa Strasser.
Mevio Founded by MTV VJ Adam Curry, Mevio hosts more than 70 podcasts, such as Cali Lewis's GeekBrief.TV, a video roundup of "shiny, happy tech news." "Podcasting is my full-time job," Lewis says. "Mevio helped turn a hobby into a business."


iTunes The No. 1 way people get podcasts; iTunes has a commanding 75% market share. Apple reports that there are more than 150,000 podcasts available.
iPhone App Live streaming to your cell phone is nascent now but expected to take off once data speeds and battery life improve to support it. When they do, live streaming is podcasting's best bet to topple radio.
NPR News A free app that gives listeners access to NPR and NPR member-station programming has been downloaded more than 1 million times, driving 13 million monthly page views.
ESPN Radio Its app ($2.99) delivers live Web broadcasts of ESPN radio shows around the country plus more than 35 podcasts such as The B.S. Report, with Bill Simmons. ESPN says it's accessed more than 1 million times monthly.
YouTube Singles out notable video podcasts, such as IGN Daily Fix (video-game news), as "series." YouTube sells ads against the shows and splits the revenue.
Tivo Gives subscribers living-room access to select video podcasts and Web shows. "It's just like getting a season pass to Lost or 24," says Evan Young, TiVo's senior director of product marketing.
Kevin Pollak Chat Show "There's no money in being distributed through TiVo," says the veteran character actor (A Few Good Men, The Usual Suspects) of his weekly interview show with actors, filmmakers, and comedians being offered through the DVR service. "My agent said, 'We could squeeze them for pennies, or just go along with it.' It's bragging rights for us."

A version of this article appeared in the April 2010 issue of Fast Company magazine.