- SiriusXM this week bought podcast technology startup Simplecast to expand support for producers of streamed audio content. Simplecast's platform lets podcasters publish, manage and measure their listening audience, per an announcement.
- SiriusXM plans to integrate Simplecast's platform with AdsWizz, the ad tech subsidiary of SiriusXM, to give podcasters a way to monetize their content with advertising revenue. Creators also can submit their podcasts to Pandora, the audio streaming unit of SiriusXM, for distribution on its Pandora for Podcasters platform, per the announcement.
- In addition, Kim Kardashian West will co-produce and co-host a criminal-justice podcast exclusively for SiriusXM competitor Spotify, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. The podcast will be about co-producer and co-host Lori Rothschild Ansaldi's investigation into the case of Kevin Keith, who was convicted of murder in Ohio but has appealed his case several times and maintained his innocence.
SiriusXM's acquisition of Simplecast and Spotify's deal with Kim Kardashian West are the latest examples of dealmaking in the competitive podcast space. Podcasts are well suited for targeted advertising with a variety of formats that include radio-like inserts and host-read promotions. The U.S. audience for podcasting grew 16% to 104 million consumers this year as more people streamed audio on smartphones, smart speakers and in-car infotainment systems, according to an annual study by Edison Research and Triton Digital.
The long-term trends for podcast advertising are positive, despite more immediate uncertainties of the coronavirus pandemic and its effect on media spending. The podcast ad market has held steady during the health crisis, according to the ad fill rate measured by podcast analytics firm MagellanAI. Meanwhile, podcast downloads last month started to recover their prior growth rates after the coronavirus pandemic had caused a short-term slowdown in late March and April, per tracking company Podtrac. The rebound likely is attributable the gradual easing of lockdowns that kept many stuck at home and cut into commuting times that are normally heavy periods of podcast consumption.
SiriusXM's acquisition of Simplecast and integration with its AdsWizz monetization platform will give mobile marketers another way to sponsor podcasts and reach a growing audience for talk programming on mobile devices and smart speakers. The acquisition of Simplecast is another sign that podcasting is a key part of its growth strategy — similar to rivals like Spotify, iHeartMedia and Apple Podcasts. SiriusXM can now offer content creators an end-to-end solution that covers podcast production and monetization, which may draw more talent to it platform.
Audio streaming platforms need exclusive podcast programming to help differentiate their services from each other; otherwise, they're mostly competing on price for streaming the same songs licensed from music publishers. That has likely been a key driving factor in Spotify's recent deals. The platform is paying more than $100 million for the rights to stream new episodes of "The Joe Rogan Experience" and acquired Bill Simmons' The Ringer for $196 million.
Spotify, which reported the pandemic had disrupted podcast consumption in Q1, has made the most significant investments in podcasting over the past two years. To monetize its growing library of podcast content, Spotify also developed a Streaming Ad Insertion format that provides marketers with more audience information to help target ads.