Dear Media Podcast Network Lands $8 Million Investment for New IP, Brand Building

Courtesy Dear Media

The Magnet Companies financing will be used to grow Dear Media's female-focused slate and build brands across social and digital platforms.

Dear Media, the podcast network behind female-focused shows like The Bitch Bible, The Skinny Confidential: Him & Her and Taste of Taylor, has raised $8 million in Series A funding from Magnet Companies, it announced Thursday. With more than 40 shows already launched and over 150 million episode downloads to date, the funding will be used to grow Dear Media's talent slate and create original IP. 

Michael Bosstick, Dear Media CEO and co-host of The Skinny Confidential podcast, tells The Hollywood Reporter that the investment will also serve as a branding launching pad for the network's influencer-heavy roster, with post-COVID-19 "live events, tours, if they want to start their own brands — some of this money will be used to basically incubate and invest in early-stage start-ups and consumer goods for a lot of these properties and then push them through the Dear Media channel."

A prime example is someone like The Hills star Whitney Port, who started her podcast With Whit in May 2019 and "has a great YouTube channel, a great blog, a great social presence, now a podcast. If you're a brand or even an audience, you're engaging with Whitney across all of her platforms and different mediums," Bosstick says. As a result of buying into Port's entire brand rather than just focusing on her show, "we're able to, one, bring a lot more meaningful monetization opportunities to the hosts relatively quickly, and two, we're able to offer brands a lot more because outside of just getting a typical host for a podcast spot, it's also being integrated in their blogs, in their social, and they're doing live events, and they're doing stories. It's really more of like a true brand partnership as opposed to just an ad placement." 

A growing slate also looks to continue an emphasis on female-fronted shows, which Bosstick says were in short supply when he and Raina Penchansky of influencer management company Digital Brand Architects (which was acquired by UTA in 2019) started the network in 2018. After seeing The Skinny Confidential had a 90 percent to 95 percent female listenership but few women on the top show charts, "we said, 'OK, let's create a space where female-focused shows and talent could feel confident that their shows were going to be properly placed and properly featured,' and also female-focused brands can feel confident that 'Hey, if you're working with Dear Media, whether it's on an individual show level or across the entire network, not only are you connecting with great female hosts but a very targeted female demographic customer base," the CEO says.

With such a large investment coming at a time of economic uncertainty amid the coronavirus pandemic, Bosstick says he secured the commitment before the shutdown after having conversations since August, and has not seen a downturn in long-term brand deals, as most have stayed in place and some brands have turned to podcasts after lost opportunities in the retail and live entertainment spaces. The pandemic has not slowed the podcast turnout, either. 

"This is really Dear Media's bread and butter — a lot of the hosts that we work with, they had started shows out of their kitchens, out of their offices, out of their living rooms, and they've been doing very current, on-the-spot podcasts with very limited support and equipment," he says. "When this all happened, Dear Media immediately pivoted to 'OK, we're sending every host at-home equipment, we're sending them the proper Zoom, the producers are able to pivot,' so we're batting 100 percent for all the shows still being produced on time, still being up and running, and hosts still being on. I think that's the beautiful thing about, one, how Dear Media is set up, and, two, this medium, is you can really get in and update messages rather quickly. It's a very fast medium as opposed to some other stuff that exists." 

Dear Media's other shows include Absolutely Not with Heather McMahan, What She Said with Jaci Marie and Chelsey Jade, Breaking Beauty with Jill Dunn and Carlene Higgins, and Food Heaven with Wendy Lopez and Jessica Jones.