Vox Media has today launched a new subscription offering for its popular narrative podcast Criminal, the company has announced, giving listeners access to bonus content, merchandise and other benefits.
The new subscription, Criminal Plus, will operate on two tiers: a base level for $5 per month or $50 per year, offering ad-free listening, bonus content and exclusive merchandise, and a $79 per year premium option, which offers extra benefits such as access to quarterly virtual events. The show will continue to be freely available with ads for non-subscribers.
“After 10 years we are very excited about this next step for Criminal,” said Criminal co-creators Phoebe Judge and Lauren Spohrer. “Our aim with Criminal Plus is to give subscribers and fans an inside look at how Criminal gets made.”
The podcast, which has been running since 2014, joined Vox Media in 2021, and is part of a large and growing stable of audio content for the publisher. This includes more than 30 shows covering everything from sports to technology, with star hosts such as Kara Swisher and Scott Galloway.
“At the Vox Media Podcast Network, we’re always exploring opportunities to expand our podcast franchises through new products and revenue streams,” said Ray Chao, Vox Media’s senior vice president and general manager for audio and digital video. “We’re excited to announce this latest expansion for Criminal, one of the most listened-to podcasts, and offer the show’s fans even more from their favourite show.”
The company is increasingly exploring subscriptions for its podcasts as a way of diversifying its revenue streams, as well as building wider franchises. Vox Media sub-brand Cafe already operates a subscription product called Cafe Insider, in partnership with podcast Stay Tuned with Preet, and Esther Perel’s podcast Where Should We Begin?, which the company acquired earlier this year, is slated to launch a subscription offering via Apple Podcasts this summer.
“Criminal listeners have been asking for an ad-free experience, and we’re excited to pair that with new exclusive content and virtual experiences with the launch of Criminal Plus,” said Priyanka Arya, senior vice president of consumer revenue. “By bringing additional content and offerings to our audiences, our goal is to build even deeper connections with our most loyal audiences.”