True cost of media/content; comparing the costs of my “free” media

Once again the BBC is under attack in the UK for its cost (less than 50p a day per person). Whilst most likely a distraction from other things this news did get me thinking about the value I get from the BBC. Today this really equates to the website and podcasts, all of which are monetized items outside of the UK via adverts anyway. The commercial aspect is an interesting one – for example I would say a number of big BBC brands, like Doctor Who, could do with a creative break/rest, however, revenue generation worldwide means the Beeb is not solely driven by being a public broadcaster to the domestic audience (and any quality standards this may pertain too). If we are to take “Global Britain” seriously then the BBC is perhaps the UK’s greatest brand, therefore the stakes can be seen to be high on many levels – not least the quest for impartial news coverage.

Anyway, all the BBC-bashing has got me thinking about how much other “free” media costs, in particular how much all my YouTube channels and podcast shows would cost me if I was to subscribe to their various Patreons, email lists and other revenue generation streams. What I have tried to do below is capture a realistic subscription cost – this is podcasts I listen to every time they come out (not ones I may be subscribed to but rarely listen to) and YouTube channels I get a lot out of (again there will be some more I subscribe to with Patreon and other links that I have not included as I would consider myself an irregular viewer/”fan”). I have also tried to balance to the “medium” subscription level – many shows offer different levels, whilst often trailed in podcasts as “buy me a coffee a month” in the roughly £6/$6 bracket there are a number with more expensive options. I have tried to go for a middle option where possible and ignored any obviously expensive ones that are there because they come with lots of merch, benefits I would not use or are simply a joke part of the brand and not actually intended for use. I have also included a couple where the producers ask for a charity donation rather than an actual subscription/donation to themselves.

Headline totals

For podcasts with an obvious “donate” option (i.e. it is in the show notes) my total costs came to: £67.64 per month (or about £2.22 a day).

For YouTube the figure was £46.50 a month (or about £1.50 a day).

There are probably other media sources I could have included here too, for example newsletters and indy game developers that I receive their creative work but do not subscribe to their payment channels.

All figures above include some exchanging from the $, Euro, etc.


Given the BBC manage to stretch their revenues across multiple outlets, from the the excellent BBC Good Food which at one point was set to close to regional news and much much more, the higher cost of individual subscriptions via podcasts and YouTube suggest they are doing things pretty efficiently. Obviously some of their presenters are paid obscene amounts of money, however, these are some of the biggest names in the UK and I would tend to say that most of those high paid names are good at what they do (even though I have rarely listened to or watched many of them in the last 10 years or so). Indeed a more commercial BBC would have to pay to hold onto them anyway.

Overall, this has been a bit of an eye-opening experience for me. I often feel bad when I ignore creators’ requests for subscriptions/donations – this exercise has shown that the reality is that subscribing to these individual services would actually be pretty expensive. It also confirms how much of a bargain the BBC, in many ways, is.

Author: iangardnergb

My name is Ian Gardner and I am interested in various topics that can be seen as related to learning, technology and information. To see what I am reading elsewhere, follow me on The Old Reader ( and/or Twitter (@iangardnergb).

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