A podcaster calling on the power of podcasting may be like the pot calling the kettle black, however the power and influence of podcasts today is evident. Recently, World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (WWE) entered into a production and distribution deal with Endeavor, specifically their Audio Division that will feature superstar wrestlers on various podcasts. Bill Simmons’ The Ringer Partners (formerly with Grantland) is a terrific sports writer and has turned that talent into great podcasts and now book deals for his colleagues at Ringer.
Over at Barstool Sports, podcasts now account for one-third of their revenue. In 2018, advertising revenue for podcasts (those companies looking to promote their products and services on various host podcasts) spent $479 million (growth of 53% from 2017) and according to IAB and PwC that figure is expected to grow to $1 billion by the year 2021. This author’s own distributor, the Bleav Podcast Network, just reached 100 podcast shows with unique hosts, and is in a co-distribution/equity deal with Black Label Media, the producer of the hit movie La La Land.
From IAB and PwC: “Fifty-one percent of Americans over the age of 12 have listened to a podcast and 22% have listened in the past week. Seventy-eight percent of listeners say they don’t mind branded sponsorships. Combine that with audio-first technologies baked into smart speakers and cars and advertisers are realizing that podcasts are a marketing platform that is a constant companion to millions of potential customers.”
What does all of this mean for the entertainment, media, and sports industry? For one, it is an additional source of revenue for hosts, producers, and distributors. Second, there should be no surprise that the explosion of podcasts is occurring. Let us explain why.
As Jonathan Perelman once said, if “Content is king, but distribution is queen and she wears the pants,” it makes perfect sense that hosts and producers would look for ways to increase revenue and lower costs while finding new ways to distribute content. Podcasts are low cost to produce (for audio and video/usually a basic desk and studio), the format is a mix between scripted (questions) and real-time conversation, but unlike radio, but like Netflix and other streamers, pods are available anytime and all the time. iTunes, Spotify, and other platforms host these pods in exchange for ad revenue either through the host or company-driven. With low cost and high advertising revenue, the result of that equation is great content and high profit.
Podcasts are revolutionary because they do not require major production budgets, contracts, or planning. However, they seem to attract the highest and most-well recognized paid entertainers, sports stars, and the like. Why? For content creators and participants, the ease of creation, use, and distribution makes for happy customers. Simply, control over the process (pre and post production) can make things go smoothly.
Podcasts, until replaced by something more efficient and creative, are here to stay.