Mar 3, 2020 - Economy & Business

BBC to invest in podcasting platform Pocket Casts

Illustration of people holding a megaphone

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

BBC Studios said Monday that it's investing in Pocket Casts, a free-to-download podcasting platform. NPR, WNYC Studios and WBEZ Chicago are already investors.

Why it matters: The investment is likely a response to media companies wanting their own data, analytics and distribution outlets instead of Apple, which shares very little data with publishers.

The big picture: It's part of a growing trend of news companies eyeing investments in podcast companies to bolster their audio efforts.

Driving the news: The New York Times is in exclusive talks to acquire Serial Productions, the podcast studio that has attracted more than 300 million downloads, The New York Times' Ben Smith reports.

  • Smith says that the company's valuation could be around $75 million, which would be a hefty investment for The Times.
  • The Times has acquired smaller companies before, like influencer marketing agency Fake Love in 2016, and About.com for about $410 million in 2005.

Yes, but: One high-level source in the podcasting world emails Axios that they're skeptical that the deal will go through.

  • "They don’t need it. The Daily is heard by millions of listeners daily. Their other projects have been great. Serial will sell to someone needing a pod strategy or big win, is my guess."

Be smart: Recently, many of the big podcast exits were going to tech companies, like Spotify, but publishers have made investments in podcast companies as well over the past few years.

  • Slate Group was early to the game with its creation of Panoply, now called Megaphone, a podcast content company turned podcast technology company that now focuses on podcast advertising.
  • iHeartMedia bought podcast production company Stuff Media in 2018 for $55 million.
  • E.W. Scripps acquired podcast network Midroll in 2015.

Go deeper: Luminary's global expansion could heat up the podcast subscription wars

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