Radio and Streaming Audio

Glut Alert? More Players Enter Podcasting Market

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Wondery, a podcast network that launched this year, was on pace to hit 10 million episode downloads for the month of October.

Wondery will "definitely" be a several million dollar business next year, predicted Hernan Lopez, the former Fox International Channels executive behind the launch, noting that the company is about two years away from being in the "tens of millions of dollars" in revenue.

Generally, though, it's challenging to size up the financial health of podcast networks. Most are privately owned, and those that are owned by public companies don't break out revenue for individual digital units, such as the Scripps-owned Midroll Media, which includes podcast network Earwolf and podcast platform Stitcher, which Scripps acquired in June.

Wondery, though, is clearly behind Midroll Media in the race between networks to ink the most high-quality program partners and bring in advertising revenue. According to an individual with knowledge of the company, Midroll Media did "in the ballpark" of $20 million in sales last year, and is on pace to bring in more than $30 million this year.

Gimlet Media is another marquee name in the podcast network space. In a recent episode of the "StartUp" podcast, the company admitted to having a "paranoid moment" as the audience numbers for the company's shows plateaued.

Gimlet set a revenue goal of $7 million for the year, and VP-finance Jim Grau said the company is "on track" to hit that number. Company investment, though, was predicted to be $9 million for the year and is now "probably" going to be about $10 million, so the ad revenue is about $3 million short of making that up.

Like any market with a lot of potential, more and more players are staking out a territory. The podcast space has gotten a lot more competitive, as the market is saturated with more high-quality programming by the day. "There's something of a content glut going on," said Erik Diehn, chief executive of Midroll Media.

The growth potential for these podcast networks relies in part on convincing major advertisers and agencies that podcasting is a worthy investment, despite some challenges faced by a platform that still doesn't have a way to measure whether a downloaded podcast episode was actually listened to.

Some progress seems to have been made on that front, though. According to a study released in September, 21% of the advertiser and agency executives surveyed said in July said that they advertise on podcasts, up from the 15% who said so in September 2015.

If you are looking for a partner to help you make sense of this growing market, and looking for the right properties to align with, turn to Look Book.

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