A Letter to Dunc’d On Listeners

[Edit: We’ve posted an FAQ for some more specific questions we’ve been getting.]

Dear Listeners,

On April 13, 2015, Danny and I started the Dunc’d On Basketball Podcast to give fans the show we always wanted to listen to ourselves, a nightly podcast where you could keep up with everything that was happening with all 30 teams in the NBA. Now, five years later, that same spirit has led us to the creation of Dunc’d On Prime. With the new Dunc’d On Prime Total Access, you’ll get all the content you need to keep up with the NBA:

  • Dunc’d On, Ad-Free. Four of the five Dunc’d On episodes per week will now be available exclusively to subscribers, with the fifth available to members commercial-free as well. That’s five episodes per week of the most in-depth NBA podcast, featuring detailed game breakdowns, salary cap analysis, and scouting. It will all be commercial-free and catered even more to our core listeners, with all of your favorite episodes including the Mock Offseason, Mock Trade Deadline, Season and Off-Season Outlooks for all 30 teams, free agency wrap-ups, monthly awards, and nightly playoff gamers.
  • Salary Cap Projections. For the first time, we’ll give you access to the same salary sheets we use ourselves, updated in real-time during major transaction periods. You’ll be able to click through to each team’s salary commitments, players’ future cap holds, and even our subjective cap room estimates for every team in the league.
  • Daily Duncs. Links to the best and most important basketball journalism from around the league to keep you updated.
  • Exclusive Subscriber Mailbag Pods.
  • Written Chat-style Q&As
  • Optional bundle with The Athletic. If you choose, a huge discount by combining Dunc’d On Prime and The Athletic.

As you can see, this subscription format will allow us to give you much more. On the podcast side, we can release shows as soon as we want instead of having to wait until advertisers are expecting a show. We can give you more emergency podcasts when situations warrant without worrying about taking away listens from the ad-supported shows. We don’t have to cater episode topics to whatever we think will get the most listens, and instead can focus on the preferences of the most loyal listeners. Plus, we can expand on the mission of Dunc’d On by offering the aforementioned written content for NBA consumption throughout your day, and enable us to expand the role of our Director of Basketball Research, Ben Dull.

After a ton of research, we decided to partner with Supporting Cast for this endeavor. If you’ve never listened to a subscription podcast before, their interface is incredibly easy. Once you’ve subscribed, it’s a single tap on your phone to add the new feed to most podcast players. After that, it will play just like any other podcast.

Why We Are Doing This

Bringing you more and better content is a huge motivation for the creation of Dunc’d On Prime. But we want to be fully transparent about the economic realities that have led us down this path as well. Since the pandemic, listens have been down about 20 percent, likely due to a reduction in commuting which is when many listened to the show. While the numbers were still decent, the advertising market has not been. COVID-19 exacerbated a trend we were starting to see even before the shutdown: it was too difficult to fill advertising slots on a five days per week podcast of our size. Sell-through rate, or the percentage of ad slots sold, has been about 20 percent in recent months. It would soon be at the point where, if we remained ad-supported, we’d essentially be working for free on four of our five episodes per week. I pursued discussions with myriad companies who specialize in selling podcast ads, and none had any degree of confidence that they could come close to filling our advertising inventory.

While we relish the chance to serve our listeners better with a subscription service, I lament that not every episode will be available to everyone anymore. In the end though, the current state of the industry and the economy dictated our decision. You’ve doubtless noticed the proliferation of sports subscription content on the written side as attempts to monetize content with advertising have failed. While subscriptions are not yet common with sports podcasts, our recent experiences make us believe the industry is headed that way. Rather than subjecting ourselves to the vagaries of the advertising market, we thought it made more sense to rely directly on you, our listeners, to keep this endeavor going. We hope that this is the best way to ensure that Dunc’d On continues for years to come.

How Much Will It Cost?

While the first subscription podcast episode is scheduled for September 8, 2020 we are pleased to be able to immediately offer a presale of a limited number of Founding Memberships. These will give you all the features of Dunc’d On Prime Total Access at the one-time only price of $115 per year, for as long as you want to renew it. Once we launch, Total Access increases to $16 per month or $160 per year. Plus, Founding Members will get access to a beta version prior to September 8, 2020 including an immediate mailbag pod in your feed and all of the written content of Total Access delivered via email newsletter. And, we’ve worked out a combined deal with the Athletic so you can add Danny’s writing along with the rest of their great writers for a great price. You can bundle a Founding Membership plus a year of The Athletic for a total of $145. This is a pretty great bundle considering the $220 regular price for the two memberships alone.

Danny and I thought long on how to price this content. We think between preparation and recording time we put more time into our podcasting than any other basketball podcast. We definitely produce more content than any other basketball podcast, and unlike others this is our primary focus and source of income.

Most other independent subscription ventures both in and out of basketball appear to be priced pretty similarly to ours. We are offering around 20 hours of audio content in a typical month, and about 220 episodes per year. For Founding Members, that’s 52 cents an episode, plus the rest of the benefits of Total Access.

We realize that recent economic issues affect some of our listeners as well, and we don’t want to lose some of our great supporters who happen to be in difficult situations. So, we will offer a couple of other pricing options. Starting with the launch on September 8, we will offer the Podcast Tier for those who only want the show itself. That tier will be $12 per month or $120 per year.*

*We did intentionally price the one-time only presale of Total Access $5 below this regular Podcast tier. So if you’re planning on a yearly membership, you might as well grab the presale, get the extra content and lock yourself in to the lower price in future years as well.

If you are truly in a difficult situation, maybe as a student or someone whose livelihood has been impacted by COVID-19, we will offer a $5 per month podcast-only membership tier as of September 8, on specific request to duncdonprime@gmail.com. Send us a few words about your situation (no crazy proof required, we trust our listeners to be honest with us) and we’ll greenlight you for the $5 tier. We will have to process these orders manually, so please bear with us if it takes a couple of days.

For those listeners who don’t want to pay for a subscription at all, we are sorry that we can’t be exclusively ad-supported any longer. We will still have an ad-supported version of Dunc’d On once a week, plus you can still hear me on Hollinger & Duncan and Danny on RealGM Radio.

If you are a Patreon subscriber, that will continue apace. In fact, we’re in the process of beefing up the features with the improved salary sheets, Daily Duncs, and more. We have greatly appreciated that community over the years and would love to keep it going, although we do acknowledge there will now be some redundancies.

I want to close by once again thanking our wonderful community of listeners. You have enabled Danny and me to live out our dream over these past five years, and we look forward to serving you for years to come.

— N

NBA podcaster salary cap expert, writer, scout, and attorney.