It was a brutal 2nd quarter for iHeart when it comes to broadcast revenue, however, there was a lot of praise for podcasting from CEO Bob Pittman. Revenue was up 100% over 2019 and he says he’s very pleased with how the iHeart podcast division is performing.
Pittman was asked by an analyst about the Spotify model behind a paywall and the free model like iHeart. Here’s what he had to say. “Ours is a distributed content model. We want our content available anywhere a consumer might be to make it easy for them to consume it. We would not sell our products exclusively. We think that, one, it limits the size of the audience. And for creators, most creators want to create a hit podcast. And I think the other avenue is for advertisers. If you’re advertiser-supported, they really demand the biggest audience possible. If you go behind the paywall, certainly you can justify it as you’re going to help build some other service, but we’ve yet to see success with that anywhere.”
Pittman says he likes the strategy iHeart has in place. “We’re really pleased with the growth we’ve had in podcasting. If you think about it, way back when we were at about 5 million unique users, Stuff Media was at about 5 million. We acquired them, so combined, we had about 10 million. We’ve more than doubled that. So we’ve not bought our way to the audience size we have. We built most of it. And I think that was our goal, to build this platform that can create hit podcast after hit podcast.”
And the way iHeart has been able to do that is by using that 800 plus radio station platform, as Pittman explains. “One of our not-so-secret weapons is that we’re able to use all of our broadcasting reach, and we’ve had great success with that and continue to use that in new and innovative ways. So we like the model. We think we’re in the right place with the right model. We’re certainly the only model that’s proven it can generate real profits and real growth. So we’re sticking with it, and as you can tell, driving forward with it quite aggressively.”