Luminary is taking on Spotify on its home turf and just days after speculation that Spotify may also be considering a subscription podcast listening option. Luminary says it will expand its service to four new countries, bringing its original content to the 27 million residents in the Nordic region. Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland is now added to the Luminary map that already includes the U.S., U.K., Australia, South Africa, Ireland, and New Zealand.
“We are proud to offer Luminary’s original content from our talented creators to the Nordics, where podcast listenership continues to rapidly grow and ranks among the highest in the world,” Luminary CEO Simon Sutton said in the announcement.
In addition to being among the wealthiest regions of the world, the Nordics are also an attractive market for audio producers. According to Reuters Digital News Report, 35% of Sweden residents listen to podcasts (ranked No. 4 and tied with the U.S.), as do 31% of residents in Norway, 26% in Finland, and 24% in Denmark. The Digital News Reportindicates that more than 50% of Sweden residents under the age of 35 have listened to a podcast monthly. And according to Forbes, Sweden actually has more podcast listeners per capita than the U.S.
Helping fund the international expansion was a fundraising round in May that Bloomberg reported brought in another $30 million to Luminary.
It has been nearly two years since Luminary’s subscription service launched with $100 million and several high-profile names, and while traction has been slow – the company reportedly has about 80,000 paid users – it has nevertheless forged ahead with the model. To boost its user numbers, Luminary cut its monthly subscriber rate to $5 at the start of the year, down from its previous rate of $8 per month. The price tag in the Nordic region will be slightly higher. Luminary will charge roughly $11 and $16 per month in those countries.
Spotify may also be considering a subscription service. It has begun surveying some users asking whether they would be interested in paying for a podcast plan. The hypothetical said it would offer “high quality original content” in addition to “exclusive interviews and episodes” and early access to shows and no Spotify-inserted commercials for the higher-priced tier – ads baked into an episode would be left intact. The survey suggested a price on such a subscription would be between $3 and $8 per month and not include ad-free access to music. “Note the prices stated are for these standalone services only and that the price of the music streaming service is not included,” the survey said.
Spotify said the survey question was just part of a routine exploration of some ideas floating around inside the company. “Some of those end up paving the path for our broader user experience, and others serve only as important learnings,” it said.