Luminary lowers its controversial podcast fee to $4.99 from $7.99 monthly

 theverge.com  01/16/2020 18:36:56   Kim Lyons
Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Subscription podcast startup Luminary, which is trying to shake up podcasting with its premium model, has lowered its monthly subscription price in the US from $7.99 a month to $4.99, according to podcast news site HotPod and confirmed by the company. The news comes less than a year after the bumpy launch of the venture-backed premium platform, which had many wondering why they would pay for podcasts at all, let alone a monthly fee. The company, which raised $100 million prior to launch, has also added a $35 annual plan for US subscribers.

Luminary also announced new prices for international subscribers: UK listeners will pay 3.99 per month, down from 6.99, and Australian subscribers will pay $5.99 AUD per month, down from $7.99 AUD. The new prices went into effect January 14th.

A company spokesperson said the change was based on the success of Luminarys holiday promotion, our latest consumer research, and data insights about the evolving streaming content ecosystem. Existing subscribers will be converted to the new $4.99 price, and subscribers who received a holiday promotion will continue at that price for a year.

When Luminary launched in April, it immediately raised the ire of podcasters and publishers, who objected to the companys business model of using free podcasts to lure listeners into its app, where it would try to get them to pay for its premium content. Podcasters also pushed back on Luminarys practice of stripping podcasts show notes, which sometimes have sponsored links and other information, and of the way Luminary rerouted listeners so that podcasters couldnt tell where traffic was coming from.

Numerous high-profile podcasts pulled their content from Luminary after its launch, including shows like The Daily, The Joe Rogan Experience, and Blackout. Major publishers like Gimlet Media and Parcast were never on the platform to begin with, and PodcastOne and iHeartRadio removed their networks of podcasts from distribution on Luminary.

Its premium content at launch included shows from Trevor Noah, Lena Dunham, and podcasters like Guy Raz and Manoush Zomorodi; it now includes shows from Roxane Gay, Celeste Barber, and Russell Brand. The company says it will have new shows from Soledad OBrien, Alex Gibney, Franklin Leonard, and others coming soon.

Luminary replaced its CEO in October, adding Simon Sutton, formerly of HBO, as its new chief executive. Luminary co-founder Matt Sacks was moved to the executive chairman role.

« Go back