American podcasters are starting to pay more attention to their international audiences (and their pounds, loonies, and euros)

Welcome to Hot Pod, a newsletter about podcasts. This is issue 173, published August 14, 2018. International House of Podcasts. When considering the global potential for podcasts, the prospects of non-American podcast companies and publishers — like the BBC, Louie Media, The Australian (I guess? what a week for that organization), and so on — only make up half the story. The other half revolves around the relationship between American publishers and non-American audiences, to which the physical-space-collapsing nature of the internet theoretically gives them easier access. It’s very much still early days on this front, but for some publishers, the tangible advertising opportunities provided by international listenership are beginning to make themselves loud and clear. HowStuffWorks, the veteran Atlanta-based company behind shows like Stuff You Should Know and Atlanta Monster, is one such publisher. Jason Hoch, the company’s head of new initiatives, tells me that non-American downloads for Continue reading "American podcasters are starting to pay more attention to their international audiences (and their pounds, loonies, and euros)"

A big shakeup at Audible has left the audiobook giant’s podcast strategy unclear

Welcome to Hot Pod, a newsletter about podcasts. This is issue 172, published August 7, 2018. Huge shakeups at Audible Originals. I can confirm that the Amazon-owned audiobook giant announced internally last Thursday that it was eliminating a considerable number of roles within its original programming unit. Sources within the company tell me that the role eliminations span a number of different teams within the unit, but most notably, they include nearly the entire group responsible for Audible’s shorter-form podcast-style programming, like the critically acclaimed West Cork, The Butterfly Effect with Jon Ronson, and Where Should We Begin? with Esther Perel. That group was previously led by former NPR executive Eric Nuzum and his deputy, the public radio veteran Jesse Baker. NPR’s Neda Ulaby first reported the development in a newscast on Friday evening. In the spot, Ulaby noted that about a dozen employees were affected and that the changes Continue reading "A big shakeup at Audible has left the audiobook giant’s podcast strategy unclear"

Where should the daily news podcast go from here? (Can we get away from “the commute”?)

Back to the daily grind. Once again, we return to an old hobby horse of mine. What can I say? I find the genre endlessly fascinating. It’s filled with so much land to mine, so many things that haven’t been done yet. After all, that’s why I’m still here. We begin with a news hook: last Wednesday, The Washington Post posted a job opening that reveals the legendary newsroom to be in the hunt for an “accomplished journalist” to “be the voice and personality of a daily podcast.” It is, in many ways, a completely unsurprising development. Since Jeff Bezos bought the news organization in 2013, the Post has been especially aggressive and nimble in building stuff out across all sorts of platforms: Reddit, YouTube, the Amazon-owned Twitch. Audio too, of course. Now, under the leadership of Jessica Stahl, the Post has built out a modest Continue reading "Where should the daily news podcast go from here? (Can we get away from “the commute”?)"

Netflix helped propel this podcast from a canceled show to a six-figure success

Editor’s note: Hot Pod is a weekly newsletter on the podcasting industry written by Nick Quah; we happily share it with Nieman Lab readers each Tuesday.

Welcome to Hot Pod, a newsletter about podcasts. This is issue 170, published July 24, 2018. Curiosity, with a side of luck. I’m nowhere near the first person to say this, but it’s nevertheless worth shouting out loud: Getting Curious With Jonathan Van Ness is exceptional listening. The chief reason why is right there in the title: the Queer Eye star is a vivid interviewer whose curiosity is sharp, sprawling, infectious. That’s a real and rare gift, and its depth is further expressed by the strength of the show’s archives. A cursory glance at the list of previous episodes reveals a vast scope of the world, with interview subjects that range from gender bias in film scoring to the difference between Sunni and Continue reading "Netflix helped propel this podcast from a canceled show to a six-figure success"

Wilson FM, which aims to “elevate podcast aesthetics,” is the first exciting podcast app in a long while

So there’s this new podcast app-doohickey that came out last week that really caught my eye. It’s called Wilson FM — a name I will forever associate with a volleyball (I’M SORRY, WILSON) — and the thing is billing itself as a “podcast magazine,” which on most days would be a piece of nomenclature that I’d find vaguely annoying. Except that a podcast magazine is exactly what Wilson FM is, and it’s also one of the more pleasurable player ideas I’ve seen in a long while. The core mechanic isn’t anything particularly revolutionary, other than the fact that it’s remarkably simple. Every week, the app-magazine-thing serves you a new curated playlist of podcast episodes built around a different theme (most of the time). There’s one about art, there’s another about the Supreme Court, and then there’s a collection that’s really just threading together Lea Thau’s Love Hurts series.
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Dog-eared MP3s: The podcast and book publishing industries are finding new ways to cross-pollinate

Audible has long been a horizontal curiosity for the podcast industry, given its hiring of former NPR programming VP Eric Nuzum in mid-2015 and subsequent rollout of the Audible Originals and “Channels” strategy in mid-2016, which saw the company release products that some, like myself, perceived as comparable to and competitive with the kinds of products you’d get from the podcast ecosystem. This signing of authors like Lewis to audiobook-first deals appears to be a ramping up of an alternate original programming strategy, one that sees Audible leaning more heavily into the preexisting nature of its core relationships with the book publishing industry and the book-buying audience. It might also be a consequence of a reshuffle at the executive decision-making level: In late 2017, the Hollywood Reporter broke the news that chief content officer Andrew Gaies and chief revenue officer Will Lopes had unexpectedly stepped down resigned from their posts.
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The Washington Post wants to figure out the best places to put ads in your favorite podcasts

So I can’t say that I like this. To begin with, the podcast CMS market is fairly crowded already (see: Libsyn, Art19, Megaphone, Simplecast, PRX’s Dovetail, Spreaker, CastPlus, so on and so forth), and many of those solutions already allow for dynamic ad insertion. Furthermore, I generally have reservations about programmatic ads in podcasting (see here for more on that), and my concerns are doubled should the push come from a company that, up until this point, has primarily operated in a display-ad–first digital world. Eh, maybe I’m not being generous enough here. In any case, there is one potential positive thing that I’m curious: I wonder how this technology will fit into the Post audio team’s various dabblings with smart-speaker programming. Meanwhile, elsewhere. I filed two interviews for Vulture last week, one pegged to a beginning and the other pegged to an end. (1) The first looks at Continue reading "The Washington Post wants to figure out the best places to put ads in your favorite podcasts"