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BBC Launches Global Podcast Subscription Service as Streaming Transforms Broadcasting


As streaming changes how consumers get their audio content, the BBC is expanding its subscription offerings around the world.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the United Kingdom public broadcasting company launched BBC Podcasts Premium in 166 additional countries on Tuesday (Nov. 28), providing ad-free listening on Apple Podcasts for $2.99/month or $29.99/year.

“Audio is core to the BBC’s heritage. We’ve been doing it for over a century and it forms part of our fabric as a global newscaster and storyteller,” Louise la Grange, BBC Studios’ senior vice president of audio distribution, said in a statement. “…Through BBC Podcasts Premium, we’re inviting new audiences around the world into this seamless, premium listening experience to hear the very best of our audio journalism and storytelling.”

The service reportedly has been available in Australia and New Zealand since earlier this year, and in the United States and Canada since 2021.

The news comes as broadcasting companies increasingly turn to subscription models. Take, for instance, U.S. satellite and online broadcasting company Sirius XM, which announced earlier this month the launch of its new streaming app in an effort to attract younger listeners.

Indeed, broadcasting companies across the industry are increasingly tapping subscription models. NPR, for instance, has its $8/month NPR+ Bundle, and iHeartRadio offers tiered subscriptions to access its content without ads and with on-demand features.

Indeed, audio streaming presents a lucrative opportunity for providers that are able to capture consumers’ loyalty. According to research featured last year in the Subscription Commerce Tracker, a PYMNTS and Vindicia collaboration, consumers spend an average of $278 per month on streaming services. Plus, 80% of consumers reported spending money on music streaming subscriptions each month.

Streaming subscription revenues continue to rise. Spotify, for instance, reported 26% year-over-year growth in monthly active users and 16% growth in premium subscribers in Q3, per the company’s most recent earnings report. 

Plus, music companies are seeing increases across streaming platforms, with Warner Music Group reporting earlier this month that it saw a 9% year-over-year increase in streaming revenue in Q4 FY2023, with that figure jumping to 10% for revenue from paid subscriptions. Plus, Universal Music Group saw revenue from paid subscriptions rise 6.7% year over year in Q3

Granted, many consumers are not looking to add more content subscriptions but rather to pare back. The PYMNTS Intelligence report “The One-Stop Bill Pay Playbook: Drivers of Consumers’ Bill Payment Priorities,” created in collaboration with Mastercard, which drew from a survey of more than 2,100 U.S. consumers, revealed that when people are unable to pay all their bills, streaming subscriptions are the most likely to get canceled.

Specifically, 55% of consumers said they would cancel these services, a greater share than said the same of any other monthly bill, while only 17% would prioritize paying this bill in full over others.

According to the PYMNTS’ Provider Ranking of Streaming Apps, which compares leading players based on a range of factors including channel coverage, consumer usage and more, Spotify is the top audio streaming app, coming in at No. 4 across all streaming services, followed by Amazon Music.