Bloomberg Media and iHeartMedia are releasing five podcast shows this year, part of a co-production and distribution podcast deal between the business publisher and audio giant to create over a dozen new original shows in the next three years.
“We’ve been looking for a way to expand our audience and this was the perfect way to do that,” said Katie Boyce, Bloomberg’s executive editor for digital. Bloomberg’s podcast audience has grown 11% year-over-year, a spokesperson said without providing exact figures.
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While this deal was first announced back in May 2021 and the first slate of shows was originally planned to debut last year, Bloomberg and iHeart announced the first five shows today, with the first slated to be released next month. They are a mix of daily and weekly news programs and narrative-style limited series. Bloomberg Media’s existing slate of over 20 podcasts, meanwhile, has been distributed by the iHeartPodcast Network and can be heard on iHeartRadio as well as everywhere podcasts are available — as will the new original shows.
So why the delay? “We wanted to be intentional about building a slate of podcasts with iHeartMedia that showed the breadth of our newsroom and our coverage, which took some time as we started digging into the various formats and ideas,” a Bloomberg spokesperson said.
iHeartMedia will market, distribute and help sell ads against Bloomberg Media’s new podcast shows. Bloomberg Media will get access to iHeartMedia’s in-house marketing, distribution and ad sales resources, as well as the opportunity to reach a broader audience than its business readers and listeners. Both Bloomberg and iHeart will sell ad inventory for the new and existing podcasts, a Bloomberg spokesperson said. The spokesperson declined to share the financial terms of the deal, including whether the companies will share the revenue resulting from the ads each side sells.
“iHeart does have a lot of people who probably aren’t familiar with Bloomberg. So if we can expose what we consider to be very good work to new people, perhaps they will explore some of our other offerings,” said Jared Sandberg, Bloomberg’s senior executive editor for digital.
iHeartMedia is one of the largest podcast networks, in terms of reach, with more than 632 active shows reaching over 31 million unique monthly listeners and 441 million global downloads and streams in April 2022, according to Podtrac’s rankings. According to its latest earnings report, iHeartMedia’s podcast revenue was up 79% in the first quarter of 2022 compared to the same period last year, bringing in $69 million.
The first five shows
The first podcast from this deal, called “Bloomberg Crypto” will premiere in June. The daily show will be led by Stacy-Marie Ishmael, the newsroom’s managing editor for crypto. In July, “Bedrock, USA” will debut on political extremism and small-town life. The limited series podcast will be hosted by Bloomberg CityLab reporter Laura Bliss. Two shows will come out in September: “In Trust,” a limited series about the land ownership of one of the wealthiest families in Osage County, Oklahoma, and “The Big Take,” a daily show on the big stories of the day, hosted by Weston Kosova. Lastly, “Crash Course” will premiere in October, hosted by Bloomberg Opinion senior columnist Tim O’Brien.
“If you look at the five [shows] that we’re talking about, they go in every direction. We’re hitting every format. We’ve got two daily podcasts that don’t resemble each other at all. We’ve got two long-form narrative, episodic podcasts that are very different but consequential stories we’re really excited about. We have one blended podcast where it’s a blend of talk and narrative,” said Sandberg.
The variety in the new slate of shows from Bloomberg Media shows the publisher is “taking different content angles targeting business to try to expand their audience,” said Stephen Smyk, svp of podcast and influencer marketing at agency Veritone One. “I think [this deal] is an interesting angle for Bloomberg in trying to expand the audience past their core Bloomberg fans.”
Bloomberg Media and iHeartMedia will market these shows by having hosts appear as guests on other iHeartMedia podcasts and run ads across shows in iHeartMedia’s podcast network that are similar to the new series, Boyce said.
This is an important part of the deal, as podcasters often lament the issue of discovery in the podcasting space. “As is always my concern with new content: What’s gonna be the marketing and promotion behind it? There are so many shows coming out. It’s so hard to distinguish oneself,” Smyk said. “The more shows that get launched, the more promotion necessary to break through the clutter,” he added.
The attractiveness of the business decision-maker
Business podcasts are popular among audio advertisers. “We’re always looking for quality business content, in terms of the audience that reaches,” Smyk said. In particular, reaching business decision-makers is important for business-to-business and business-to-small business companies, he said. Reaching this audience is “so hard to do,” especially as the more “historical” ways of reaching them (via TV, radio and magazine ads) are becoming less popular forms of media consumption, Smyk said.
“Podcasting for that very reason is critical to hit those business decision-makers that are running to ad-free subscription services,” Smyk said.
While targeting business decision-makers is valuable to advertisers, if the audience pool is “too small, it can be hard to monetize them well,” Smyk said. He added, “By bringing iHeart on, it allows for a lot more potential for revenue, allows them to scale and use best-of-breed products, in terms of serving and inventory management and monetization.”
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