Luminary, a New Paid Podcast Service, Launches on Tuesday Without ‘The Daily’ or ‘Reply All’

BY Evan Selleck

Published 22 Apr 2019

Podcasts are a remarkably popular endeavor these days, only growing in strength over the last few years. Apple saw its potential and put a renewed focus on its own podcasts platform. Spotify is even going big on the idea. A brand new paid service called Luminary is looking to shake things up.

Luminary is a $100 million startup, and its CEO, Matt Sacks, sees plenty of room for the platform to exist alongside Apple Podcasts and other options. Sacks and his podcast platform announced its incoming launch last month with an ad that offered, in part, “Podcasts don’t need ads”, which led to some backlash.

But that isn’t slowing things down for Luminary’s launch, which will happen on Tuesday, April 23. When it arrives, the premium service will offer “over 40 ad-free podcasts”, and will use personalized suggestions to offer up recommendations based on a user’s listening history and preferences. The cost is $7.99 per month, but Luminary’s website says the first month is free.

Luminary will be available in Australia, Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom. It will be available on iOS, Android, and on the web.

And there will be high-profile podcasts available right out of the gate, including Lena Dunham’s “The C-Word”, “Let’s Talk This Out With Trevor Noah”, Hannibal Buress’s “Handsome Rambler”, and many others. However, it will also be missing quite a few different popular podcasts as well, including “The Daily” from The New York Times and “Reply All” from Gimlet Media (which was recently acquired by Spotify). And not having these shows may be a huge obstacle for Luminary:

“By withholding their shows, the Times and Spotify are setting Luminary up to fail — or at least struggle to get off on the right foot with users. It certainly seems like the first shot fired in the inevitable premium podcast war and could destabilize one of the first buzzy, well-funded entrants before it can make a dent in the industry.”

There is a free tier with Luminary, which will offer the bulk of publicly available podcasts out there. The paid tier is meant to offer high-tier exclusive offerings, as mentioned above. They will only be available on Luminary’s platform, which could help give it a leg up. However, missing “The Daily” and “Reply All”, among others, will automatically make it a nonstarter for some listeners.

[via The Verge]