Bragging about podcasting has become routine for radio CEOs as they report earnings to Wall Street. Earlier this week, Entercom CEO David Field spoke very highly of the medium and Thursday night iHeartMedia executives did the same.
iHeartMedia CEO Bob Pittman believes the podcasting pool that iHeart is swimming in will only increase in the coming years. Both Pittman and CFO Richard Bressler pointed out that podcasting ad revenue is expected to double, to nearly $1 billion, by 2021, and iHeart expects to snatch up as much of that revenue as possible.
Bressler said, historically, podcasting has been a direct-response business, but as it becomes more mainstream, advertisers like Proctor & Gamble and T-Mobile will enter the space, and when that happens iHeart expects to get a decent chunk of that revenue. Companies like iHeart and Entercom already have established relationships with those big brands, thanks to many years of working with them with their hundreds of radio stations. Pittman said even right now iHeart is not getting its fair share of podcast revenue and he expects that to change in the years ahead.
Pittman also touted the advantage iHeart has with its 850 radio stations. On those stations unsold inventory is used to promote iHeart’s podcasts. Pittman estimated the inventory they use to promote podcasts, at no charge to the company, at about $100 million per year.
iHeart says its podcast division is profitable now.