Criticism hails from the podcast profiles

There are two major players responsible for a shift in the availability of podcasts in Norway: PodMe and Podimo. These two players buy up podcasts and put them behind payment walls. Fans are reacting to the fact that podcasts that were previously free will now cost money.

It started with the Radio Reception, now called Papaya, and Friminutt being acquired by PodMe.

The last two big podcasts that are now behind the payment wall are the G-spot with Iselin Guttormsen and Harm and Hegseth’s podcasts. There have been many reactions and criticisms from disappointed listeners.

Not happy

There are very many who comment that they are dissatisfied with the fact that the G-spot is now behind the payment wall. Many believe that this is an exclusive move from Podimo. The comments include:

“Should only the rich be able to listen to this?”

“For many families below the poverty line, 79 kroner is a lot of money and cannot be spent on podcasts.”

Harm and Hegseth also receive criticism. More and more fans are giving the podcast a bad rating in Apple’s podcast app. They write that they boycott the podcast, and students write that they can not afford to follow them further.

Several write that the mentioned celebrities have enough money to not make the podcast inaccessible, and therefore think it is sad that they do this to the fans.

The manager of Harm and Hegseth, Marte Stinessen Schei in Max Social, does not want to answer Good evening Norway’s questions about the mentioned criticism, and believes PodMe must be responsible for the answers here. Guttormsen’s manager, Christina Alvarez in Eccentric People, on the other hand, answers the fans:

– What we can say is that the concept around the G-spot from the start has been to create good content and entertainment with interesting guests. That it should be so well received is something Iselin and we in the production behind are very proud of. The time it takes to record weekly podcast episodes is significant for her, and for everyone who works with clips, audio adaptations and now also video. Together with Podimo, Iselin and we get the opportunity to create even better content, and develop the concept around the G-spot further.

She says it used to be “free” to stream music, and believes it is natural that the podcast industry moves in the same direction and becomes more professional. She says they expect a certain decline in listeners at the start of the Podimo project.

– We understand that listeners who have had access to the G-spot via Spotify or other services think it is a pity that the new episodes will now not be available without a subscription to Podimo, but it is important to point out that all 91 previous episodes with lots of good content still available where old and new listeners have heard podcasts before.

Neither the management of Harm and Hegseth nor Guttormsen answer whether the new podcast agreements mean more money for the celebrities.

As mentioned, it is not just these two podcasts that have received criticism and accusations that money was the motivation behind the payment wall project. There has been at least as much speculation about how much Mikkel Niva, Herman Flesvig, Bjarte Tjøstheim, Tore Sagen and Steinar Sagen get paid now that their podcasts are behind the payment wall. All five went from NRK to PodMe.

Herman Flesvig regretted one thing with the First Time Service

Uncertainty regarding pay

PodMe editor in Schibsted, Kristin Ward Heimdal, does not want to say how much money they tempt with. She says they have done other things than just pay to attract profiles.

– We experience that the profiles are motivated by being part of a major investment that will help shape the podcast industry in the future, and that we can offer both a professional environment, a workplace and of course conditions that reflect what we and they believe is the value of a subscription-based model.

One who, on the other hand, wants to tell how much the radio profiles earn, is podcast and P3 profile Wolfgang Wee. He means to know what the wage levels are, and tells it in «Wolfgang Wee Uncut».

– Free time should get 2 million a year over a 3-5 year basis. Then the Radio Reception will get 3-4 million per head, he says, and points out that he does not have the exact numbers clearly in front of him.

NRK boss Thor Gjermund Eriksen has previously stated to Campaigns that we are in a new media age.

– We have lost a number of TV profiles and there has been a lot of focus on how much willingness to pay there has been from TV 2, Discovery and TV3 on TV profiles. What we are experiencing now (with podcast, journ. Note) is much bigger than that. Here there is a power and willingness to pay in terms of acquiring the profiles that we have never experienced in the TV area.

CHANGING GRAZING: Tore Sagen, Bjarte Tjøstheim and Steinar Sagen went from NRK to Schibsted.  On that occasion, they go from producing the Radio Reception to producing Papaya.

CHANGING GRAZING: Tore Sagen, Bjarte Tjøstheim and Steinar Sagen went from NRK to Schibsted. On that occasion, they go from producing the Radio Reception to producing Papaya. Photo: Thomas Winje ijord


Media consultant and market analyst Arne-Inge Christophersen (59) works daily in the PR company Hausmann. He has also worked as a manager in several media companies.

He believes the salaries are one of the reasons why the big profiles, such as Herman Flesvig, Mikkel Niva, Tore Sagen, Steinar Sagen and Bjarte Tjøstheim, chose to go from NRK to Schibsted.

– There are probably two areas in particular that lure profiles over. Number one is investing in the site and resources to create, market and distribute content. Number two is that few do this out of pure charity. Many people realize that they have good market value and that they can thus get paid well through salaries. Do not be surprised if salaries are seven digits.

Good evening Norway has contacted the management of both Friminutt and Papaya. They have been given the figures in the article, but do not want to comment.

NORWAY'S LARGEST: Free time is still produced by NRK, but soon they will go to PodMe.  As of today, Mikkel Niva and Herman Flesvig are behind Norway's largest podcast.

NORWAY’S LARGEST: Free time is still produced by NRK, but soon they will go to PodMe. As of today, Mikkel Niva and Herman Flesvig are behind Norway’s largest podcast. Photo: Tore Meek / NTB

New time in the media industry

Kristin Ward Heimdal says that their expectations are that PodMe will take a leading position in podcast subscriptions in the Nordic region. She says the payment wall grip is part of a long-term strategy and investment that they believe will be profitable and provide more value for users.

Podimo CEO Lina Tandberg Martens also has big ambitions. Podimo has really taken up the fight against PodMe. Podimo has signed profiles such as Jan Thomas, Ida Fladen, Siri Kristiansen, Harald Eia and Guri Solberg.

– We believe that good content is worth paying for. Podcasters put a lot of time and effort into the content they create. Podimo wants to help give podcasters and production companies the opportunity to create even better content, and we want to give Norwegian listeners the best listening experience. We focus on Norwegian productions and profiles, and both podcasts and audio books, so that Norwegian listeners get a completely unique user experience, says Martens.

Arne-Inge Christophersen thinks it is exciting to follow the development of the podcast community in Norway. As long as the content is good enough, he thinks there is a willingness to pay.

– This professionalization gives greater maturity, and the advertisers show greater interest and willingness to pay. At the same time, the number of new podcast users is growing every day. Although one can probably still talk about an early phase for the channel, the development is very positive. In addition, the media market is doing very well at the moment, and advertisers are investing more and more money – including in audio.

Heimdal claims that Schibsted is “very happy” with the listener numbers, but does not want to say how many people have listened to the first episodes of Papaya behind the payment wall. Schibsted hides the listener numbers from «Podtoppen», which is Norway’s official top list for podcasts.

Podimo initially wanted to share the listener numbers on Podtoppen, but must reconsider this now that the competitor has taken such a clear position.

– We have just launched Podimo in Norway. The streaming service for podcasts and audiobooks has only been available for just over a month. As former chairman of the board of Podtoppen, I clearly see the value of the survey, and we have had an intention to include our podcasts. Now, however, Schibsted has said that they are pulling their podcasts from Podtoppen. Based on that, we have to make a new assessment about participation, says Podimo CEO Lina Tandberg Martens.

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