On Wednesday, just hours before releasing its Q2 earnings results, and one week before Podcast Movement kicks off in Orlando, Entercom announced it was buying Pineapple Street Media and Cadence 13 (which it had partial ownership in already). PBJ reached out to several podcasting industry experts about the deals. Here’s what they had to say…
Produce Your Podcast Founder Traci Long DeForge says because she has an extensive background in radio, she’s excited to see broadcast corporations getting into the space. “Podcast awareness will increase as they begin to use their existing stations as distribution platforms and marketing outlets for their podcasts. This in turn will increase discoverability of podcasts as a whole by introducing the medium to an even larger audience. This increased awareness will ultimately be an advantage for podcasters as a whole by bringing more exposure to podcasting in general. This has the potential to elevate everyone’s potential success. As the lines between radio and podcasting continue to blur it is imperative that these companies invest in a staff well educated in the art of podcasting and not make an attempt to convert podcasts to traditional radio shows. One of the advantages of these endeavors could be to bring a new audience back to radio. This is as big of an opportunity as it is to introduce podcasts to a wider audience. The success will be determined by moving podcasting forward in a progressive and innovative direction, not the other way around.
Rebel Base Media CEO Mark Asquith: The continued acquisition of content houses across the whole industry shows that whilst organizations like Entercom value content, they still don’t quite know what works and what “sticks” in podcasting. And so, bet on large inventory that delivers data to double down on, with the hope of spread-betting their monetization strategy. Here in the UK, we’re seeing everyone become a “podcast production company” and investors are really piling heavy stock into companies with little actual podcasting experience. Again, this may not be a bad thing as the “we create a podcasts bubble” that continues to expand, but will it burst when investors/startups realize that podcasting is a long game and a difficult one to consistently deliver hit after hit in? Time will tell.
Lipstick & Vinyl Founder Allyson Marino: Entercom’s purchase of Cadence13 demonstrates the value a specialized podcast advertising sales network brings. Even to an organization with an existing salesforce. Pineapple Street puts Entercom in a position to develop best-in-class original IP that is made for podcasts first. These deals together make Radio.com a much more interesting platform from both an advertising and distribution standpoint.
School Of Podcasting CEO Dave Jackson: While some companies are abandoning content, it’s interesting to see another company doubling down. For the most part, I don’t think most podcasters will be aware of this (or care) but it does mean (even more than usual) that the quality of content will continue to improve in podcasting going forward. Three people sitting at a table talking into one microphone “winging it” just won’t cut it.
She Podcasts Co-Host Jessica Kupferman: “I’m super happy for Jenna and the Cadence13 peeps. Clearly they are doing something that seems very appealing to radio companies. What concerns me the most is when radio companies come into the space and try to turn it into a radio show. If this means that RADIO will become more niche, more on-demand, and less regulated, then I’m all for it. Either way I love seeing so much interest in the space and hope it keeps being accessible for anyone to do.
Libsyn VP, Content And Partnerships Rob Greenlee. Cadence13 has always had one foot in the commercial radio business and Entercom has had a large investment stake in them for some time now, so this just completes the desire for Cadence13 to be a division of Entercom. This also means that the second-largest radio group in the U.S. is hedging its bets by acquiring a couple of podcasting companies. This, along with the iHeartMedia acquisition of Stuff Media, shows a pattern of big radio seeing the future and it looks a whole lot more like podcasting than traditional commercial radio.
Motor City Woman President Robin Kinnie: I made a prediction about a year ago at a Google Detroit workshop about the evolution of podcasting. I predicted that soon you will be able to hear your favorite podcast on your radio dial. I think this acquisition further blurs the line between traditional radio and on-demand content. Both sides will stand to benefit from mergers like these that combine the expansive reach and accessibility of the radio signal with the curated content of the podcasting world. My hope is that podcasters who are creating good content will be able to monetize their work by partnering with larger companies. However, we also want to ensure that we keep space for independent thought and perspectives. Podcasts that don’t fit a certain mold shouldn’t feel like they have to relinquish creative control in order to reach larger audiences. Consumers don’t want “programming” anymore. They want a ton of options with on-demand features for their entertainment. This is a win-win for all.
She Podcast Co-Host Elsie Escobar: This was a smart move by Entercom. They have infrastructure, production, talent, and developed monetization strategies — I mean…that’s a no-brainer. And congrats to getting paid. I wonder how these independent production companies, that have essentially done things their way for so many years and are now in a situation where there is a boss they need to answer to, will handle it. They are stepping into legacy models. Will the new class listen? Will they abide by the old? Will the legacy peeps be open to doing things another way? I’ve seen acquisitions like this in other industries and usually the founders stick around for one to three years then respectfully depart. When this much power and money come into the mix, something is always lost. My biggest question is, will the legacy media models imprint themselves on the acquired companies? Will freedom still lead the way?