Luminary partners with Acast to broaden audience reach and monetisation

Podcast subscription platform reverses stance on advertising with new deal

Podcast subscription network Luminary has announced a new partnership with Acast to broaden the audience for some of its original shows and increase the monetisation options for its content, in a departure from its prior strategy of exclusivity. 

Luminary launched in 2019 with a Netflix-style business model based on creating original podcasts which would be exclusive to subscribers, initially through its app and later via an Apple Podcasts channel. It was met with pushback over its ‘walled garden’ approach, while the service - and its exclusive shows - have so far failed to find meaningful market share.

With this partnership, however, six of its original shows - including Under the Skin with Russell Brand, Joking Not Joking with Mo Amer and Azhar Usman and How I Masaba with Masaba Gupta - will now be distributed through Acast, and made available to listen to across all major podcast platforms. 

“Luminary was founded with a vision to produce high-quality shows that move listeners,” said Luminary co-founder and chairman Matt Sacks. “Our partnership with Acast will allow us to highlight culture-defining content… while giving these artists —and their excellent work—the wider audience they so deserve.”

The podcasts will now be monetised through Acast, with advertisers being able to purchase both programmatic and host-read sponsorships on the shows. Later this month, Luminary will also start to use Acast+ Access, a tool which allows companies with an existing paid subscription offering to integrate bonus content into third-party platforms, allowing listeners to consume it in more places.

The move represents a notable turnaround for the subscription platform, which took the initial stance that “podcasts don’t need ads” - as demonstrated by a highly controversial Tweet posted to the company’s account. Last year, the company’s then newly-appointed CEO Rishi Malhotra told The Verge that “the [subscription] model is working from a revenue basis”, but Luminary nonetheless seems willing to explore alternative income streams.

“Acast has consistently advocated for an open, barrier-less podcasting environment, and this partnership underscores our dedication to making exceptional audio content easily accessible to all and monetisable everywhere,” said Acast Creator Network senior vice president Veronika Taylor. “Podcasting is not a one-size-fits-all environment, and Luminary's decision to leverage Acast's technology and expertise highlights our shared commitment to an innovative strategy which has listeners at its heart.”

Acast+ Access does not integrate with Spotify’s API due to “major limitations” with Spotify Open Access, an Acast spokesperson previously told PodPod, as the API doesn’t support having two separate feeds - one public and private - for the same show. This can create problems for features like dynamic ad insertion and bonus content. Additionally, Acast has chosen to no longer accept new campaigns using Spotify’s Ad Analytics, starting from this month.

Similar to Luminary, Spotify is another podcast platform that has revamped its podcast strategy in the past year by removing the exclusivity over some of its shows like Anything Goes with Emma Chamberlain and the upcoming original with Trevor Noah in order to grow its audience and increase its ad sales. According to a report by The Wall Street Journal, Gimlet original podcast Science Vs has increased its audience and listening hours by 60% since the company dropped its exclusivity in April this year when it first introduced this strategy