iHeartMedia CEO Bob Pittman was in Las Vegas, Wednesday, attending a Wells Fargo financial conference. The first topic addressed to Pittman by the Wells Fargo questioner was podcasting, a topic Pittman loves to talk about.
Pittman told potential investors that podcasting at iHeart was an extension of radio. “It’s profitable for us with good margins and it will grow as we scale more.”
To point out just how popular podcasting has become with consumers, Pittman said before the company purchased HowStuffWorks, the two companies had about 11 million listeners. Today, they’ve added another 12 million on top of that number. He attributed the growth, at least in part, to the “firehose of radio promotion.” iHeart uses all of its 750-plus radio stations to promote podcasts, and every Sunday night iHeart radio stations across the country are running a lineup of podcasts on their stations.
Pittman says the reason podcasts are an extension of radio is because listeners have the same experience: companionship. “People bond to the host.”
Pittman said if you were to put a figure to it, iHeart is spending over $100 million per year to promote podcasts on its radio stations. “We use our own airtime to promote, which is why we can be profitable.”
He also says he doesn’t see iHeart buying any additional podcast companies. “We needed HowStuffWorks for the genres and their management team. We know how to monetize and distribute.”
Conal Byrne leads up the iHeart Podcast Network.