The Ricky Gervais Show
is to become the first paid-for Podcast.
The show features British comedy personalities Ricky Gervais, Steven Merchant and Karl Pilkington. Their irreverant brand of monkey-based comedy has seen the weekly half-hour podcast storm to the top of the iTunes charts and stay there.
The first run of 12 episodes was sponsored by UK newspaper the Guardian
and were free to download via iTunes. Following on from the success of the show, the second run of episodes will be hosted on Audible.com
and will be accessible only to those who've paid a subscription fee.
iTunes doesn't currently support the purchasing of podcasts through its own store, but does allow the purchase of audio spoken content through its link with Audible, which can be accessed through the Music Store.
An Audible subscription to the show will cost $7 a month in the US and £4.50 a month in the UK. For the money, you'll get four half hour shows.
Up until now, podcasts have always been a 'how on earth do we make money off these' proposition. Popular shows like This Week In Tech
have existed by donations and the personal wealth of their presenters. Other shows like the Engadget podcast
have been sponsored by advertisers.
The Gervais experiment will give analysts an answer to the question - will people pay for radio shows on the net? Currently, people pay for music, but are used to downloading podcasts for nothing. With this being the most formal pay-to-download podcast offering yet, it seems that Gervais & Co are hoping that the answer will be an emphatic 'Yes'. With their podcast being so popular for so long, they undoubtedly stand a better chance than most at pulling this off.
No doubt the rest of the podcasting world will be eyeing this eagerly. If the podcast proves popular as a paid-for proposition, we're sure to see a flood of podcasts move to Audible and convert to paid-for - which could prompt Apple to add paid-for podcasting directly into iTunes.
Will you be paying for the Gervais show? Do you even listen to podcasts? Will the subscription create a black market in ripped-off podcast downloads? Let us know what you think over in the forum.
You can check out a preview of the new show over at RickyGervais.com