In it’s biggest Podcasting acquisition to date, iHeartMedia purchased full stack podcast tech provider Triton Digital from E.W. Scripps for $230M (Podcast Business Journal). In 2018 iHeart purchased Stuff Media for $55M and in the last quarter of 2020 Voxnest for $50M.
With all the consolidation in the industry, the buzz is about the main players including Spotify, iHeart and SiriusXM now having real audience scale to leverage their grown and acquired ad tech+sales+content. iHeart is the #1 podcast publisher in January 2021 by Unique Audience (29.1M), Global Downloads and Streams (254M), and, by far, Active Shows (539) according to Podtrac.
The Verge has a piece extolling the importance of tech over exclusive content in the competitive Podcast space in the medium to long run with some insight on the deal, and agreement on the premise from iHeart management. In the long term, I disagree. This perspective will change – eventually we will enter a market phase where tech capabilities become less differentiated among several big players and the battle to attract consumers and the listening Apps they download and favor will be driven by content. Content attracts consumers, and consumers attract advertisers. It’s up to all of the scaled players to deliver a great UI/UX to listeners, and appealing solutions to advertisers.
Between Spotify, iHeart and SiriusXM (includes Pandora, iHeart is trailing app/distribution. With a market cap just above $1B, it would be a cheap and interesting target for Apple or Amazon.
With the deal, E.W.Scripps has completed their shedding of Audio and Podcasting assets having sold Stitcher (including Midroll) to Sirius last June at an enormous profit. Scripps also did well on this deal having purchased Triton for $150M in 2018 (InsideRadio).