In the world of video content, Netflix has emerged as a clear industry leader. Not only is the streaming service the first place millions of people turn when they want to watch their favorite movies and shows, but the company is also now finding success as the studio that produces all those movies and shows in the first place. It’s a one-stop shop.
Meanwhile, in the audio world, there’s a new startup that’s hoping to follow that same blueprint for success. That’s the story of Luminary, a company that, according to the New York Times, has the potential to become the “Netflix of podcasts.” With nearly $100 million in funding, and big names like Lena Dunham, Conan O’Brien, Malcolm Gladwell and Trevor Noah already slated to produce new shows on the platform, they appear to have a real shot at living up to that moniker.
Being compared to one of the 21st century’s most successful companies is a lot of pressure for a new startup; you might expect Luminary to shy away from that sort of praise. Instead, they’re leaning into it.
“We want to become synonymous with podcasting in the same way Netflix has become synonymous with streaming,” said Matt Sacks, Luminary’s co-founder and CEO. “I know how ambitious that sounds. We think it can be done, and some of the top creators in the space agree.”
In an industry like podcasting, producing great content is only half the battle. Perhaps the trickier part is monetizing it. Most podcasters make money by selling ads, but Luminary is hoping to build a successful brand by giving listeners an ad-free option. There will be a free tier, where listeners can enjoy some 600,000 ad-supported podcasts that are not exclusive to Luminary’s network, but the real cash cow will be a subscription service that charges $8 a month for premium content.
Becoming the next Netflix will be an uphill battle; the podcast industry is a competitive one. Stitcher, Pocket Casts, Overcast, and Castbox are among the other podcast platforms that are already doing well. Another hot startup, Himalaya Media, just announced that it’s raised $100 million for a podcasting platform. For Luminary, the goal is simple: to separate itself from that pack by putting out the best podcasts out there.
“Just like in the premium television space, there is more than enough room for multiple offerings to thrive,” Sacks said. “What sets Luminary apart is our exclusive content right off the bat. Nobody comes close.”