Listen Up: Why the Podcasting Industry is Getting Louder

By William Demers ‘23 Co-Managing Director

Growing up, riding in the car with my parents meant it was time to hear the latest news and sports from our car’s radio. For many, this was the only way to conveniently stay up to date with news, sports, popular culture, and current events. But over the past decade, younger generations (myself included) have been turning away from radio towards more convenient forms of media consumption. The most notable of these are podcasts, or sound and video files available on-demand as opposed to live on the air.

The idea of a podcast was first introduced in 2000, when audio files were first shared through RSS (really simple syndication) feeds that website users could access at any time. Since then, podcasting has developed from a niche online form of content to one of the main ways that many access news and talk shows. Massive platforms, such as Spotify, YouTube, and Apple Podcasts, have seen tremendous growth thanks to the popularity of podcasting, and content creators have made millions from streams, downloads, and lucrative licensing deals.

Recent deals include UFC-commentator-turned-podcaster Joe Rogan, who signed a two-year exclusivity license with Spotify for roughly $200 million in 2020. Similarly, the very popular ‘Call Her Daddy’ podcast was signed to a $60 million three-year exclusivity deal with Spotify in 2021. Alongside large exclusivity deals, podcasting giants have been making strategic acquisitions over the past decade to grow the influence of the industry. In 2021, Amazon acquired the Wondery Network for an estimated $300 million, while Spotify has since purchased Gimlet Media, The Ringer, and Parcast. Popular podcast marketplace and monetization tool Acast also IPO’d in June of 2021 with a valuation of over $800 million.

It is clear that the podcasting space is lucrative for both brands and creators and is set to grow even more in the coming years. In fact, Statista’s Advertising and Media Outlook report estimates that the total number of active podcast listeners will reach and surpass the number of radio listeners in the next three to four years. Considering how low the barriers to accessing and producing podcasts are, this comes as no surprise.

This is something that the radio industry seems to understand as well. Radio giant iHeartMedia has been growing its podcast portfolio over recent years with big names such as Martha Stewart, Will Ferrell, and Shonda Rhimes. It is likely that they will further dive into the space as time goes on and more people turn away from the radio and towards podcasts as a source of news, entertainment, and culture.

For myself, listening to new episodes of my favorite podcasts is a highlight of each week. The ability to listen to my favorite creators and news outlets on my own time while walking to class is a significant upgrade from listening to the radio in my car. Recommending new shows to friends is as simple as sending a link over text, which makes sharing new discoveries incredibly easy. Since all you need to start a show is a microphone and a computer, there are always new shows being made, making podcasting a genre that will continue to grow for a long time.

William is a senior from Dover, NH finishing a degree in Finance and Information Systems with a minor in History at UNH. He has experience working in business operations for both an early-stage ed-tech startup and an innovative industrial equipment sales platform, and with active Angel Investors in the Boston area. Through these experiences, William has grown his technical knowledge of finance and database design while also exploring an emerging passion for early-stage financing and investing. This year, William hopes to bring this experience to the table while growing the community of Associates and continuously learning within the Fund as a Co-Managing Director.

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