Mar 3, 2020 - Economy & Business

BBC to invest in podcasting platform Pocket Casts

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

Go deeper

Podcast downloads drop during coronavirus outbreak

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Americans have been listening to fewer podcasts since the coronavirus pandemic started to worsen in the United States, fashion trade publication Women's Wear Daily reports.

Why it matters: Podcast downloads have dropped about 10%, and the number of total unique listeners also dropped around 20% since the start of the month, according to data from Podtrac.

Joe Biden launches newsletter and podcast amid coronavirus outbreak

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden launched a virtual newsletter and announced a new podcast on Wednesday to remain in touch with supporters amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Why it matters: Biden's move illustrates that if you can’t get the media to pay attention to you, instead be the media, per Axios' Sara Fischer. Sen. Bernie Sanders has deployed a similar strategy with his own campaign video series.

Pricey mergers force media giants to offload once-shiny assets

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Pricey mergers are forcing some of the biggest media giants to shed assets that are no longer necessary to their core business.

Why it matters: Once sexy investments in new media companies are beginning to feel like expensive burdens on corporate giants looking to offload unnecessary debt.