This week Twitch’s Creative Strategy Lead Jack Woodcock tells us about the opportunities for publishers around livestreaming, what lessons we can learn from the success of individual streamers, and how the team at Twitch looks to the community when creating new features.

In the news roundup the team discuss the rise of subscription products for podcasts, ask why local news isn’t reaping the digital ad boom, and discuss Gannett paying some women nearly $30,000 less than their male peers. The team critique Steve Jobs’ fashion choices.

The full transcript is live here, or read the highlights below:

On how publishers can benefit from livestreaming:

The advice for a publisher or an organisation would be the same as the advice that we give our brand partners in that scenario. The really important thing about thinking how you’re going to move on to a platform like Twitch and connect with that audience is, it starts off with by understanding what your objectives are.

What a news brand would have to say will be very different to the sort of content that an entertainment publisher would put out.

On collaboration between creator and audience:

[Twitch] is unfiltered. And it’s in the moment. [The audience] respect that authenticity. Photo sharing platforms, where everything is highly curated and highly filtered…Twitch is almost the antithesis of that.

It’s more “go live and create a piece of content with with the community”. Often creators will see it as a collaborative process that exists between them and the audience.

On monetising livestreams

I guess the thing about the way that advertising shows up on Twitch there it’s quite distinct from the market in that you see far fewer ads on Twitch than you would on lots of other platforms.

And I think one one of the reasons that we’re able to do that – and one of the things that I was most surprised by when I joined the business – is the reason that ad weight is low is because session time for individuals is so long. The average session time for someone who just comes in and to watch Twitch is 90 minutes.

Key stories:

The pivot to paid has well and truly arrived in podcast land – Spotify and Apple both recently announced paid platforms that will let podcast creators set up subscriber-only episodes.

  • Spotify launched its new subscription podcast platform that gives creators the ability to create podcasts exclusively for paid subscribers; using Spotify’s podcast creator platform Anchor will be able to mark episodes as subscriber-only and publish them to Spotify and other podcast listening platforms.
  • Apple is launching a new podcast subscription service within the Apple Podcasts app. “The Apple Podcasters Program” includes all of the tools needed by creators to offer premium subscriptions on Apple Podcasts for $19.99 annually.
  • As usual Apple is skimming 30% off the top, dropping to 15% after a year. Spotify says it will take nothing for two years, then in 2023 introduce a 5% fee. And of course if you want a direct relationship with your subscribers, that’s a big nope.
  • Facebook is also adding a podcast player in its app, powered by Spotify. It wants people to be able to interact with podcasts without having to leave the Facebook app (‘social audio’).
  • Why does it matter? Podcasts have historically been open and freely distributed, but new subscription offerings for podcasts from Apple and Spotify aim to change that status quo.
  • NPR – the good people behind Serial – also plans to launch a public radio podcast subscription service. It will deliver sponsorship-free versions of individual podcasts for a small fee.
  • NPR says it will be partnering with Apple and Spotify on their new podcast subscription platforms, but it will also be committed to keeping content free.
  • The move to paid will rile some elements of the podcast community – they just want to be free. 
  • But as Eric Nuzum says in his Audio Insurgent newsletter, subscriptions matter because relying on one revenue source is a bad idea: “Just as advertising can lead you to pursue behaviors that aren’t in your long-term best interest, subscriptions can point you towards behaviors that are definitely in your long-term best interest.”

News in brief 

  • Verizon is exploring the sale of more of its media assets including Yahoo and AOL. The company spent more than $9 billion to acquire AOL in 2015 and Yahoo in 2017, and their sale now is seen as an expensive and unsuccessful bet on digital media.
  • Traffic to local news sites rose over the course of 2020 – quite significantly in some cases – but digital revenue “plummeted”. Considering that digital spend increased overall, that’s not a great indicator of health for those news sites.
  • Gannett is under fire for paying some women nearly $30,000 less than their male peers. Some horrendous stats in here around the disparity between the pay of white men and everyone else.
  • Talking of Gannett, its flagship national paper USA Today has quietly started putting some stories behind a paywall. A subscription will cost $4.99 a month, but a spokesperson has said the offering is just a test. 
  • The Evening Standard is launching London Rising, a series of hybrid, virtual and in-person events focused on bringing London back to life.
  • The Times has launched a new editorial channel to champion sustainable living. Times Earth is a new digital hub for all news about climate change, sustainability problems, initiatives and solutions.
  • The Telegraph has reported a 76% rise in its annual operating profits, boosted by a £13.7 million increase in its digital subscription revenues. Growth has continued in 2021, and it hit a milestone 600,000 subscribers in March.

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