Nowadays we think of Mofibo as the ebook arm of Storytel, but Mofibo has been dominating the European digital books subscription scene since 2013, three years before Jonas Tellander paid $15 million in 2016 to bring the service into the Storytel fold.
Now Mofibo founder Morten Strunge is set to take on Apple and Spotify in the world of podcasts, with a two-country launch set for September, backed by $6.7 million in seed funding from German (E.Ventures) and Danish (Heartcore) investors.
In a bold move Podimo wants to provide a platform for podcasters that will pay revenue share for all, at a time when only a handful of top-name podcasters are currently earning from their podcasts.
Strunge told TechCruch,
Podcasts have finally come of age and we are seeing a lot of demand for audio content globally across many different demographics. Consumers are increasingly looking for premium, ad-free services and we see a huge potential in the podcasting space.
We believe that with the fast increasing amount of podcasts available, curation and discovery becomes more and more important to both unfold content in a relevant context and to the right individual user, which will benefit both podcast creators and consumers.
Our dream is that with around 20% of people in Europe listening to podcasts on a weekly basis, many creators should be able to make a living out of creating podcasts, it shouldn’t just be for the few. We will offer revenue share to all existing podcasters out there, but also co-produce and produce original content.
All of which sounds very exciting, not least for publishers who are concerned about the costs of traditional audio, which generally comes in at a longer play-duration and therefore higher production costs and a more distant break-even point.
The as yet unanswered questions are how Strunge plans to bring podcast content on board – Apple and Spotify have existing relationships with mainstream audio-producers offering podcasts – and what territorial expansion plans Strunge has.
Strunge expects, for example, Danish audiobooks fans to take a look at Podimo, but if they already have a subscription to a rival audiobook service like Storytel DK or Bookbeat DK, which also offer podcasts, will they be willing to add yet another subscription to their monthly outgoings?
One of the biggest challenges in the subscription market moving forward is the growing number of alternatives consumers need to choose from.
I’ve no doubt Morten Strunge has done his homework and this particular start-up will fly, but in the audio sector we must fast be approaching a parallel with the ebook scene earlier this decade, when there was a surfeit of ebook start-ups fighting for the same audience and many went to the wall.
The real value of the podcast investment may be in the emerging markets where the comparatively low costs of production and low literacy rates will make podcasts an enticing option if priced sensitively.