Aug 20, 2019

Venture capital cash is pouring into podcast companies

Data: Pitchbook; Chart: Axios Visuals

Venture capital money is pouring into podcast companies, with roughly 3x times as many deals being brokered today than 10 years ago.

Why it matters: Data has long suggested podcast listenership would explode as more Americans adopt smart speakers and voice assistants in their homes.

  • But before 2017, venture capitalists shied away from investing in podcast startups, fearing that Apple already had too much of a stronghold over the market and because the industry was (and still is) rather decentralized, which means that money hasn't flowed into it as quickly.

Yes, but: Those trends are starting to change. Some venture-backed podcasts are experiencing major exits into bigger podcast platforms that are beginning to rival Apple — most notably, Spotify.

By the numbers: About 90 million Americans listen to podcasts on a monthly basis, according to a report from Edison Research. But podcasts are only expected to be about a $670 million advertising industry this year, according to a report from the IAB and PwC.

  • By comparison, the newspaper industry brought in roughly $14.3 billion in revenue last year with about a 28.6 million weekday circulation and 30.8 million daily circulation.

Some of the most notable venture investments in podcasts this year ...

  • February 2019: Himalaya Media, a podcasting platform startup, raised $100 million.
  • February 2019: WaitWhat, podcast production company, raised $4.3 million.
  • June 2019: Wondery raised $10 million in Series B funding.
  • July 2019: Podimo, a European poscast app, raised €6M in seed funding.

Some of the most notable podcast exits this year:

  • February 2019: Gimlet, a podcast network, sold to Spotify for a reported $230 million.
  • February 2019: Anchor, a podcast production company, sold to Spotify for a reported $110 million.
  • March 2019: Parcast, a podcast network, sold to Spotify for $56 million.

The big picture: Spotify's $500 million investment in podcast companies this year hasn't gone unnoticed by listeners. Reports suggest that Spotify's market share had roughly doubled from 2017 to 2018, as it continues to eat at Apple's market share.

Go deeper: Podcast events are making a killing

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The Athletic is experimenting with free content

The Athletic, a subscription-based digital sports media company, will begin experimenting with putting some of its audio content in front of its paywall in an effort to expand its audience, a source familiar with the plans tells Axios.

What's new: The company will start by offering one episode a week to non-subscribers in front of the paywall and one behind. The goal is to offer people who might be less likely subscribe to The Athletic the ability to sample some of company's content.

Go deeperArrowAug 27, 2019

The New York Times' "The Daily" podcast hits 1 billion downloads

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The New York Times' hit podcast "The Daily" hit a billion total downloads last week after launching just over 2.5 years ago, says Theo Balcomb, executive producer of The Daily.

Why it matters: The Daily has been a surprise success story in the saturated world of podcasting. The profitable show was credited with being one of the biggest drivers to Q2 digital advertising growth for The Times last quarter.

Go deeperArrowSep 17, 2019

Conservative media thrives, grows broader under Trump

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Major conservative media outlets are still growing in the U.S., even in the Trump era, by broadening their coverage areas and audiences to reach as many people as possible.

Why it matters: It's a reversal of the more typical pattern in which ideological media outlets take off when a president from the other side is in power.

Go deeperArrowAug 26, 2019