How Le Monde is using podcasts to drive digital subscriptions

French news publisher Le Monde has launched three podcast
series adapted from investigative articles that have been
successful at driving high numbers of subscriptions.

The first podcast series, “Sept ans de trahisons,” (“Seven
years of betrayal,”) launched Sept. 3. and is adapted from
investigative reporting into problems within France’s Socialist
Party, by two Le Monde journalists. The series is told over five
10-minute-long episodes and produced in partnership with
Spotify.

The second series, “Le goût de M,” (“The Taste of M,”
from the newspaper’s lifestyle supplement, M Magazine), features
interviews from key figures in culture, fashion and cuisine over 15
30-minute-long episodes. The third podcast series, “S’aimer
comme on se quitte,” (“Loving each other as we leave each
other”) also in partnership with Spotify, is based on a series of
love stories told over 10 episodes each 20 minutes long. These two
podcasts will be distributed over the next two months.

While adapting original reporting from the paper mitigated some
of the risks associated with launching new formats, those who read
the original will still find it worthwhile to listen for additional
features, according to Alexis Delcambre, Le Monde’s deputy
editor for digital. “Seven years of betrayal” includes
behind-the-scenes recorded conversations that informed the
investigation. The podcast has had 30,000 listens for the first
three episodes over five days.

According to the publisher, 19% of the users who listened to the
podcast have read at least one article of the original written
series, others have subscribed to Le Monde. Delcambre couldn’t
share exact numbers but said these articles were some of the most
successful at converting subscribers this year.

“This is a good illustration of the way it connects with our
digital strategy around subscribers,” said Delcambre.
“Subscriptions is the core of our strategy, bringing interesting
and free content to platforms is also a part of that. Podcasts are
a way to connect with new audiences. For audiences who may not come
by themselves to Le Monde, this can be a contribution to driving
our long-term strategy of digital subscriptions.”

Le Monde has just over 200,000 digital subscribers, he added,
growing around 15,000 each month. In January this year,
Le Monde told Digiday
the goal for 2019 is to reach 220,000
digital subscribers. Le Monde has a premium paywall, where
subscribers pay €9.90 ($10.94) a month for digital access to
around 37% of Le Monde’s best content. The rest is open
access.

Le Monde’s previous audio efforts, which ended around five
years ago before podcast listening had its renaissance, were audio
compilations of the top news stories. Since then video, like
Snapchat and YouTube, has been a priority.

Before launching into the podcast market, Le Monde had to work
out the best production model that didn’t require a big
investment, like hiring a new team of audio developers, before it
could prove it would work. The two podcast series in partnership
with Spotify will be funded by the platform and distributed on Le
Monde and Spotify globally. According to Delcambre, it’s looking
at how to monetize the podcast series produced in-house through
partnerships and spot ads.

As with Facebook, Snapchat, Netflix and other platform
relationships, in-audio publishers have to weigh their options,
trading exclusive distribution for some funding. Distributing on
Spotify and its own platform will put a limit on Le Monde’s
podcast reach.

Currently, Spotify accounts for about 15% of the total
podcast-listening environment, according to sources, but it has
been getting more bullish, putting pressure on rival platforms.
Since February, it’s grown the number of podcast titles available
on its platform from
185,000 to 450,000.
Tens of millions of people listen to
podcasts on the platform, according to Spotify. By next year, it
hopes to have hundreds of original and semi-exclusive podcasts on
the platform thanks to the $500 million it’s
earmarked this year to buy podcast-related businesses, adding to
Gimlet and Parcast.

Meanwhile, Apple, which accounts for about 75% of podcast
listening, has more than 750,000 podcast titles available on its
platform, and it hasn’t yet got into original audio
productions.

The success of Le Monde’s podcast projects will determine
which other stories to turn into podcasts and which additional
hires it needs. Four people worked on “Seven years of
betrayal,” the two journalists on the case and two producers. It
flexes up for other series, using contractors and staffers from
Spotify.

Le Monde first needs to make sure it can drive enough audience
through its own platforms to account for the restrictions on
others.

“This is a trial,” said Delcambre. “We don’t know what
audience Le Monde can bring to a podcast; this is the question we
have to answer.”

The post
How Le Monde is using podcasts to drive digital subscriptions

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Source: FS – _Marketing
How Le Monde is using podcasts to drive digital subscriptions