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iHeartMedia is making a play for more podcasts.
The radio broadcaster has agreed to acquire Stuff Media, the company behind the podcasts Stuff You Should Know and Atlanta Monster. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the news Thursday, cites sources that say the purchase price was $55 million.
Stuff Media will significantly bolster iHeartMedia’s original podcasting business, a sign that the company, founded in 1972 as radio station owner Clear Channel Communications, sees an opportunity to capture new audiences via the digital medium.
iHeartMedia has been in the podcasting business for some time through its iHeartRadio app, where it has partnered with major podcast publishers and offers more than 20,000 shows. The iHeartRadio Podcast Network also hosts more than 750 original shows from across its local stations. Now, Stuff Media president and CEO Conal Byrne will join iHeartMedia to lead its podcast division, reporting to iHeartMedia Networks Group president Darren Davis. Chris Peterson has been promoted to executive vp of the podcasting division and will oversee iHeartRadio’s original podcast slate and manage affiliate relationships for the company.
“While podcasting has already experienced tremendous growth, the real opportunity to bring the full potential of podcasts to the mainstream still lies ahead,” said iHeartMedia chairman and CEO Bob Pittman. “Stuff Media is the original trailblazer of the podcasting industry, and we’ve been impressed by its ability to grow a massive, loyal audience over the past decade, led by a strong, experienced and cohesive management team, who we welcome to iHeartMedia.”
He continued: “This strategic acquisition will pair Stuff Media’s wildly popular content and strong creative capabilities with iHeartMedia’s extensive resources and massive scale through our digital platforms, social reach and broadcast radio stations, introducing podcasts to the vast majority of the country and offering even more unique opportunities for advertisers to reach their consumers.”
Twenty-year-old Stuff Media began its life as the reference site HowStuffWorks and was early to the podcasting space. Today, its network has 61 million global downloads and streamers per month, and its Stuff You Should Know podcast has surpassed 500 million downloads. The Raine Group-backed company also recently collaborated with Tenderfoot TV on the true-crime podcast Atlanta Monster, which has spawned a franchise. (iHeartRadio previously announced that it would team with the companies on the new season of the show, dubbed Monster: The Zodiac Killer.)
“HowStuffWorks was a proud pioneer of the podcasting medium more than 10 years ago, and we are truly excited to be taking the next step with iHeart to chart the industry’s course for the next decade,” said Byrne, adding that the deal “give us the unassailable position in the podcasting business and a platform like no one else. No company in the world has iHeart’s audience size and innovative drive, and coupled with the creative engine of Stuff Media, this is a game changer for podcast storytellers and advertisers alike, and I’m honored to be leading this effort.”
Though podcasts have been around for a number of years, the industry has recently seen an explosion as more traditional media companies jump into the space with original programming. Last year, the industry grew to nearly $314 million in advertising revenue, per the Interactive Advertising Bureau.
Stuff Media will remain headquartered in Atlanta, and Byrne will continue to lead the business as president and CEO.
Sept. 13, 7:15 p.m. Updated to correct the name of the Stuff You Should Know podcast.
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