On Guard: Stories from Inside Australia’s Toughest Prisons
2021 Finalist

On Guard: Stories from Inside Australia’s Toughest Prisons

News Corp Australia

Surry Hills, Australia

Category Audio

Media associated with this campaign

Overview of this campaign

On Guard was a premium, subscriber-exclusive, multimedia eight-part content series which combined an audio podcast, written journalism, imagery and video to take readers behind the scenes to uncover what really goes on behind bars, with eight former correctional officers sharing their stories and shocking secrets from the frontline of working with some of Australia's most infamous criminals.

In a News Corp Australia first, the podcast (and all supporting content) was locked exclusively for digital subscribers. All content was housed on a dedicated landing page (onguardseries.com.au) which allowed all readers to sample the overview story, but a subscription was required to access each podcast episode and accompanying story. 

An episode was released exclusively on-platform every Monday and Friday over a four-week period. After this period, the audio podcasts were published off-platform (on Apple, Spotify etc) to reach the traditional podcast audience, with in-episode messaging driving listeners to the series landing page to access all the extra bonus locked content including stories, imagery and videos.

The On Guard series also included interactive quizzes where readers could guess the meaning of prison slang. The combination of audio, video, imagery, written journalism and quizzes delivered a truly multimedia series that consumers could engage with in their preferred format.


  1. Digital subscription acquisition: measured via breach subscriptions

  2. Digital subscriber engagement: measured via subscriber page views, average engaged time, on-platform listens

  3. Non-subscriber awareness and engagement: measured via off-platform listens and social media results

The series catered to a key audience segment, true crime lovers, and gave consumers insight into a world that they are rarely given access to.

The series was supported by a significant marketing campaign including: TVCs on state-based free to air channels, BVOD and the Foxtel network, targeted paid social media ads, SEM, targeted digital ads, press ads in Metro and Regional publications, retail point of sale, organic social posts. 

Results for this campaign

The series delivered unprecedented results. This has been attributed to a combination of outstanding journalism and trust built with the interview subjects, audio production value, targeted marketing campaign, striking creative, produced by in-house agency Roller, the bold subscriber exclusive locking strategy and extensive publicity.

As a company-wide first trial, the two-pronged audio subscription model of releasing the entire series exclusively for subscribers on-platform before releasing to a mass audience off-platform was deemed a success in acquiring new digital subscriptions. Whilst other shorter windowing models have been trialled before, this was the first series to be completely locked.

The model also proved successful for engaging existing subscribers. With eight episodes released over a four week period, it was the only place consumers could access the next episode, so it kept them coming back to our platform frequently throughout the series.

All acquisition, engagement and awareness campaign targets were met and significantly exceeded (as outlined in the table below). 

We are unable to provide a final number of digital subscriptions acquired from the off-platform release strategy because several more episodes are yet to be published. However, we can attribute at least 40 new digital subscriptions that have been acquired during the initial off-platform release period. 





% to target

Digital subscription acquisition

Breach subscriptions




Digital subscriber engagement

Subscriber page views




Average engaged time

1 min 30 sec

2 min 33 sec


On-platform listens


Non-subscriber awareness and engagement

Off-platform listens

40,000 listens 

(from December 15th - January 20th)

Paid social

$10k budget

1M reach

2.1M impressions

27,606 landing page views

Organic social

103 posts

3M impressions

1.7M reach

2,003 comments and likes

15,228 average reach per post

PR Reach



This ground-breaking series has proved that a subscriber-exclusive podcast model can work for News Corp Australia. On a broader level, it has also instilled confidence that consumers are willing to pay for premium audio content. 


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