The primary issue comes down to editorial control. When the content is paid for, the sponsor has at least some, if not final, editorial say. It is easy to see how this can become a huge issue for some, but I was very happy to see how great The Message turned out despite it being paid for by GE. I was happy that there were no blatant GE mentions in the story. Also, because it was already paid for, there are no ads during the entire series.
The Message has a strong narrative style, not too dissimilar to the breakout podcast hit Serial. Other people seem to have picked up on this too: check out this article at The Atlantic.
I really enjoyed it and recommend it.
I crushed the entire 8 episode series in two sessions, one in the car and one right before going to bed. It's super short - each episode is around 15 minutes or less. For some reason, the main narrator reminds me of Ellen Page... Anyway, the voice acting for all the characters are quite good. I listen to a ton of audiobooks, and I can say that it's not always easy to have multiple voice performers and have it come out well.
This podcast has certainly opened me up to the idea of paid content, as well as fictional podcasts. This was a first for me on both counts. In the end, quality always wins. And this was a quality listen. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.