Acast, the Largest Global Podcast Company, Launches “Acast Access” Product for Paywalled Content Distribution

Financial Times and The Economist to be launch partners

Acast Access flow (Photo: Business Wire)

STOCKHOLM--()--Acast, the world’s largest podcast company, today announces the launch of Acast Access. The new product is the technical infrastructure for publishers to manage and distribute their exclusive paywalled content in a secure way. With Acast Access, for the first time, publishers can lock exclusive content behind their own paywall, while allowing consumers to listen to that content on their podcasting app of choice.

Until recently, the vast majority of podcasters have monetized their content through ad revenue. As more and more podcast publishers search for sustainable revenue streams to support their content, the industry will need to evolve support both ad revenue and subscriber revenue while creating consumption flexibility for listeners. It is in this context that Acast Access was developed - a product for publishers to distribute paywalled audio content via RSS feeds.

Ross Adams, CEO Of Acast said “At Acast, we believe the most important thing about the podcast medium is that it continues to be public and accessible and independent of any one platform. We built Acast to be independent and to bring value to podcasters by allowing their content to be shared on any device, app, or player. Acast Access takes this commitment to the next level by working with publishers to do this not just for their ad-supported podcasts but their exclusive subscription content as well.”

Johan Billgren, Acast Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer explains “Acast Access is built on the concept of having two RSS feeds for one show. One is the standard, public-RSS feed. The other is the private version of that show, the accessed-RSS. The publisher then decides what parts of the content are exclusive and only available through the accessed-RSS, and what parts are in both feeds. Acast Access then checks the anonymized user data against the publisher's API to determine which users are approved as either logged in or paying subscribers of the publisher. From the listener’s perspective, Acast Access is easy to use. It takes just two clicks to replace the public feed with the accessed version in their podcast app of choice.”

Acast first began testing paywalled content when Acast+ launched in 2016. The Acast+ paywall was only accessible through the Acast app. One publisher who used Acast+ is leading UK football podcast The Football Ramble. The Football Ramble offered one exclusive episode per month, plus an ad-free experience for all of their regular episodes, to listeners who paid a fee. For the listeners who use the Acast app, the conversion to the paywalled content was close to 50%. From listeners who didn’t pay, the feedback Acast received was directly related to the content being exclusive to the Acast app: many listeners said they would pay if they could access the paywalled episodes in their own app of choice.

This feedback led to a crucial component of Acast Access: the ability to protect content behind any third party’s paywall while letting listeners access this content in the podcast app of their choosing, such as Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Pocket Casts, and more.

Alastair Mackie, head of audio for commercial at the Financial Times, is leading the beta test of Acast Access for the Financial Times, with editorial support from Renée Kaplan, the FT's Head of Audience and New Content Strategies. Mackie said, “The Financial Times recently announced the milestone accomplishment of reaching one million paying readers and we're continuing to look for ways to attract new audiences. We've been building out our various forms of audio and are always eager to experiment as we grow beyond a traditional print and online offering. The majority of our podcast listeners are not yet subscribers and Acast Access will help us to bring tremendous value to the audio realm, incentivizing conversion for those listeners.”

Acast Access is truly a world first audio product. In addition to the ability for publishers to paywall entire episodes, they may also choose to combine private and public content in the same episode with the goal of driving conversions.

Frank Andrejasich, Associate Director for The Economist Media Lab, which is also beta testing Acast Access, said “We are always working to maximize the value of a subscription payment for our subscribers. We see Acast Access as helping us to take a more innovative approach to audio subscription and helping to grow the opportunities for our podcasts, including the recently launched Intelligence daily podcast. We want to give our listeners as many reasons as possible to stay connected to The Economist.”

Frank Andrejasich, Product Manager for New Product Development at The Economist, which is also beta testing Acast Access, said “We are always trying to help subscribers unlock value from their subscription to The Economist, and audio has been a key differentiator for us for many years. Acast Access offers us the opportunity to take a more innovative approach to subscription audio content and will allow our subscribers to listen to subscriber-only audio in the same places they listen to our award-winning Economist Radio podcasts.”

About Acast

Acast is the world’s largest podcast company. Since 2014, Acast has been the engine powering audio for makers all over the world. At its core, Acast connects audio makers with the financial support they need to create amazing content while also delivering the audience they want. Acast works with podcasts globally including My Dad Wrote a Porno, Off Menu, David Tennant Does A Podcast With, The Adam Buxton Podcast, Sanspants Radio, Alice & Bianca, Watch What Crappens and Varvet as well as those of publishers such as the Times, the Economist, Guardian, VICE and Vogue. As a global business, Acast has offices around the world from Stockholm to Sydney and a team of 100 talented audio lovers working diligently to create a sustainable audio and voice ecosystem to ensure that the audio industry continues to grow and flourish. Acast was founded by Karl Rosander and Mans Ulvestam together with co-founder Johan Billgren.


Kara Silverman


Kara Silverman