Feb 11, 2020 - Economy & Business

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

Reproduced from The Nielsen Total Audience Report, February 2020; Chart: Axios Visuals

Luminary is expanding its service to three new countries, New Zealand, South Africa, and Ireland, sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: Its subscription podcast offering is bolstered by offering dozens of podcasts to users exclusively on its platform. Most Americans subscribe to multiple video services, but not multiple audio services, according to Nielsen. But that could soon change if more podcasts begin to be offered exclusively on certain platforms.

  • The move expands Luminary's footprint to Africa for the first time and doubles its international presence, which to date was only Canada, the U.K. and Australia.

What's happening: Luminary's global expansion comes on the heels of the announcement that Richard Plepler has joined its board of directors and that former HBO President and CRO Simon Sutton has joined as CEO.

  • The company raised $100 million last year to become the "Netflix" of podcasts.

The big picture: Podcasts companies are looking to invest more in their own exclusive content to lure users to pay subscription fees to their services.

  • Apple will reportedly fund exclusive podcasts for its platform. Bloomberg reported last month that Apple is also planing to make original podcasts promoting its TV shows.
  • Spotify announced Wednesday plans to acquire The Ringer, a sports media company founded by former ESPN personality Bill Simmons. It's the latest in Spotify's roughly $500 million investment in podcasting.
  • The Ringer shows that are currently exclusive on podcast platforms like Luminary and Pandora will remain exclusive.
  • The programs available on all podcast platforms will be available everywhere for the foreseeable future. There may be some podcasts from The Ringer that become Spotify exclusives in the future, although that's not expected to be the case for the most part.

Why it matters: Via Axios' Ina Fried: "The big question is whether this (Ringer deal) and other moves by Spotify and Luminary will mark the end of a world in which podcasts were largely openly and freely distributed."

Go deeper: News podcasts go mainstream

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Spotify acquires Bill Simmons' "The Ringer" to boost podcast business

Photo: Spotify

Spotify announced Wednesday plans to acquire The Ringer, a sports media company founded by former ESPN personality Bill Simmons.

Why it matters: The acquisition speaks to Spotify's massive investment in podcasting over the past year, as the company aims to expand its offering solely from music to audio including podcasts.

Scoop: Sports podcast upstart Blue Wire raises $1.2 million seed round

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Blue Wire, a new sports podcast company, has raised $1.2 million in a seed round, sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: Blue Wire is looking to build out long-form sports narrative podcasts. The company believes that while sports highlights will continue to be mostly viewed via short video clips, more long-form sports media consumption will eventually shift to podcasts from traditional radio and print.

Spotify to pay up to $196 million in cash for The Ringer

Bill Simmons. Photo: Mike Windle / Staff/Getty Images

Spotify disclosed in an SEC filing Wednesday that it is paying up to $196 million for The Ringer, a sports media company founded by former ESPN personality Bill Simmons.

Why it matters: It's a solid payout for The Ringer, which was created just four years ago. The Ringer's podcast revenues surpassed $15 million in 2018, and the company says it's profitable.