Alaska HDTV: Making Money from Podcasting

by on September 23, 2009 at 4:55 pm

(This interview is part of David Spark’s (@dspark) series “Making Money from Podcasting” (read summary “9 Successful Techniques for Making Money from Podcasting”) where he interviews podcasters who are actually generating revenue from their podcasts. There are many techniques, and here’s one person’s tale of how he’s making money from podcasting.)

Kevin Kastner, co-producer of Alaska HDTV

Kevin Kastner, co-producer of Alaska HDTV

Get your own sponsors

Kevin Kastner is the co-producer of the video podcast, Alaska HDTV. He produces the show with Scott Sloan, the original founder of Alaska Podcast (the original name of Alaska HDTV). While in the Alaska Podcast incarnation, Sloan monetized the production through a relationship via the podcast network Mevio (previously known as PodShow and started by legendary MTV VJ Adam Curry – read/watch my interview with Adam Curry). At the time, he was making some ad deals with Mevio but he didn’t have much say and control about the deal. Sloan and Kastner really didn’t understand what the terms of the deals were. They simply received a check in the mail for a few hundred dollars. It wasn’t clear what arrangement Mevio had made with the advertiser and what their cut was, said Kastner.

Interview (Time: 17:13)

Download mp3

Mevio’s offers started getting weaker. Some deals required Kastner and Sloan to run advertisements for free with a referral code and if the advertiser closed a client, Kastner and Sloan would get paid out a referral fee. The relationship with Mevio was starting to sour. The poor offers, the lack of transparency in the deals, and the multi-year commitments caused the two of them to say themselves, we can do better on our own.

Alaska HDTVAs Kastner and Sloan set out to get their own sponsors, they quickly determined that they wanted to go after the travel and transportation industry. They picked companies and went direct to the PR and marketing departments within those organizations. The first company they targeted was Alaska Airlines. Not only did they go after employees within the company, but they also went after their ad agencies. The idea was to corner them at all angles so there would be no way they could avoid being seen, said Kastner. While they didn’t get Alaska Airlines, they did get a partner of Alaska Airlines, Bank of America, issuers of Alaska Airlines’ credit cards. Bank of America had a budget and some money to spend before the end of the quarter. It was really good timing for Alaska HDTV.

In the early days of managing their own ads, like with Bank of America, Kastner and Sloan baked advertisements into Alaska HDTV with a product placement and a pre-roll. Kastner said he avoided the CPM equation at all costs. He uses a flat rate sponsorships, traditionally three months. It’s not hard to calculate Alaska HDTV’s CPMs (between $30-$50) as Kastner gives sponsors full stat reports on viewership. While he was so eager and creative about advertising from the onset, the market has devolved, said Kastner. What they initially thought was advanced programming to entice advertisers (e.g. baking pre-rolls into shows, in-show product placements) turned out to be too confusing. Advertisers just want inserted pre-rolls where they completely control the creative. So for now, because that’s what advertisers want, that’s what Alaska HDTV sells.

Kevin Kastner, Alaska HDTV

Kastner says now that he’s made the full time switch to getting their own sponsors, they’ve increased revenue 200-300 percent. But that’s come at a real cost. It’s no longer a part time gig. Alaska HDTV is his sole source of revenue and the time he’s put into it has gone up more than ten-fold. They do seek other revenue opportunities through hired gun video production and speaking engagements.

Listen to the interview as Kastner tells the tale of his personal struggle seeking sponsors and offers some great experiential advice to others looking to head down the same path as him.

More episodes of “Making Money from Podcasting”

  • Never Not Funny (Technique: “Partial show for free – full show paid”)
  • Personal Life Media (Technique: “Build your own media network of programming and sell advertising against it”)
  • Pregtastic (Technique: “Get your own sponsors”)
  • Elsie’s Yoga Class (Technique: “Sell an iPhone application along with your podcast”)
  • Mac OS Ken (Technique: “Give away five shows for free, make them pay for the sixth”)
  • Duct Tape Marketing (Technique: “Build your brand to sell your services”)
  • ScreenCastsOnline (Technique: “Give away every other episode. Make them pay for the rest.”)
  • Izzy Video (Technique: “Give away every other episode. Make them pay for the rest.”)
  • Slate Gabfests (Technique: “Integrating sponsorship with the show’s editorial”)
  • Wizzard Media (Technique: “Got audience? We’ll get you sponsors. Or, get sponsors on your own and we’ll insert the ads” PLUS “Sell an iPhone application along with your podcast”)
  • (Technique: “Build an audience and sell premium podcasts”)
  • Manager Tools (Technique: “Build your brand to sell your services”)
  • ESPN (”Build your own media network of programming and sell advertising against it”)
  • Mevio (Technique: “Motivate your audience”)