Making money is a bit of a problem for those involved in new media, but the people over at Never Not Funny: The Jimmy Pardo Podcast, a weekly show hosted by stand-up comedian Jimmy Pardo and entrepreneur Matt Belknap, may have figured out how to turn those round eyeballs into crisp, green dollars.
The podcast (which airs both video and audio) is touted by Pardo as a morning radio show with out all the extra junk and has been running for around three years and spans across five seasons. Last year, Belknap, Pardo, and crew made a decision to switch from the free-to-download-model shared by so many podcasts to one based on subscriptions.
Belknap, who is also the show’s producer, said many fans of the show took the for-pay model well and subscribed.
“It was amazing actually,” said Belknap. “I think we felt like if we could hold ten-percent we we’d be happy but it has been more than double that.” Pardo said some weren’t happy with the change. “A lot of people were pissed off [and said], ‘why do I have to pay for something I’ve been getting for two years?” said Pardo.
Under their subscription model, viewers pay $24.99 for access to the video version of the 90-minute show. Each new six-month season is 26 episodes plus a few bonus episodes. For the viewer, that ends up being about 96-cents per episode. (The audio-only version is $19.99). The producers tell us about half of their subscribers opt for the premium video package.
Without a subscription, viewers can watch 5-minute episodes from past seasons up until Season 5 or listen to a shorter, audio version from iTunes. However, Pardo said those who opt for the free version won’t be able to watch the podcast or participate in some of the show’s interesting features like Judge Jimmy where Pardo settles disputes sent in my viewers.
But why do a for-pay model?
“We didn’t want to cheat anybody or make anybody feel like we are taking something away from them … [but] felt like we deserve to be rewarded for what turns out to be a lot of work,” said Belknap.”
Aside from the two hosts and their crew, guests on the show also get a few bucks for their time. “I know everyone would show up and do it for free … but I feel that if I’m making some money why not give it to the people who are helping me put on a great show?” said Pardo.
Like many other podcasts, Never Not Funny also integrates ads into their shows, primarily from Audible.com. Pardo said what many in the industry have figured out: ad-revenue alone is too little and too scarce to support a production. The paid, video version of the podcast is ad-free. The show also sells CDs and T-Shirts at the show’s website and at Belknap’s other home, ASpecialthing.com.
How does one stand out as a for-pay service when so much free content is available?
“I think charging separates us from the sea of free podcasts out there,” said Belknap. “We were lucky to be featured in iTunes and to build a good audience when we were a free show…we had to find our own way to do it.”
For more on web series moving to the ‘freemium’ model, with subscription plans for premium content, see our coverage of Tiki Bar TV’s new Membership plan.