So, like, iHeartMedia just bought Stuff …
In a definitive statement that illustrates the profit-making and consumer-building potential of podcasts, the nation’s No. 1 radio broadcasting company has agreed to acquire Stuff Media, a podcast content publisher known for the HowStuffWorks (HSW) brand and other on-demand digitally delivered offerings.
The deal, iHeartMedia says, will allow the company to leverage Stuff Media’s original content, programming and podcasting management team and to further expand its own podcasting platform.
Further, iHeartMedia boasts, the Stuff pact increases its position as the No. 1 commercial podcast publisher globally and No. 2 podcast publisher overall, according to Podtrac.
Really? Yes, as iHeartMedia is already partnered with many major podcast publishers and features more than 20,000 podcasts ranging from NPR and member station WNYC-AM & FM in New York to ESPN and Gimlet. Further, the iHeartRadio Podcast Network hosts more than 750 iHeartRadio original shows.
Stuff Media’s origins date to 1998, when HowStuffWorks started as a reference site in the first years of the internet. It was one of the first companies to turn podcasting into a revenue-generating business. Today, Stuff Media is one of the nation’s largest podcast publishers, with more than 61 million global downloads and streams per month.
Atlanta Monster, a Stuff Media/Tenderfoot TV original true crime podcast that recently partnered with iHeartMedia, became “the biggest hit podcast of 2018,” iHeart adds — staying at the top spot on the podcast ranking charts for four continuous weeks.
“While podcasting has already experienced tremendous growth, the real opportunity to bring the full potential of podcasts to the mainstream still lies ahead,” iHeartMedia Chairman/CEO Bob Pittman said. “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. 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.”
Stuff Media is led by President/CEO Conal Byrne. Byrne will join iHeartMedia as head of its podcast division.
Stuff Media’s podcasts will maintain their branding and remain headquartered in Atlanta, with Byrne continuing in his role.
Byrne will report into Darren Davis, President of the iHeartMedia Networks Group and iHeartRadio.
Chris Peterson will now serve as Executive VP of the podcasting division for iHeartMedia, and will oversee the full slate of iHeartRadio original podcasts, as well as manage the affiliate relationships for the company. Peterson will report to Byrne.
In 2017, Stuff Media raised a growth equity financing round led by The Raine Group, a technology, media and telecommunications global merchant bank, to establish partnerships with industry leaders, grow Stuff Media’s content library across podcasting and other mediums, and invest in top-tier talent.
Jeff Sine, partner and co-founder of The Raine Group, commented, “Podcasting has emerged over the last several years as a mainstream media distribution channel. With one of the largest and highest quality libraries in the industry, we believed that Stuff Media was well positioned to take advantage of accelerating demand from both consumers and advertisers. Conal’s ability to assemble the resources to capitalize on these tailwinds and his execution on growth strategy has been exceptional. We are very excited for Conal and his team as Stuff Media enters its next chapter of growth.”
“In the past year alone, iHeartMedia’s podcasting has exploded,” Darren Davis said. “Our robust slate of originals spans a wide range of topics, and we’re continuing to forge partnerships to bring the most compelling series to the iHeartRadio Podcast Network. In addition, our unique iHeartRadio podcasts from our influencers such as Bobby Bones, Elvis Duran, The Breakfast Club and others, have created a whole new category. By acquiring Stuff Media, we’ll not only integrate its slate of original content, but more importantly, we’ll gain the most innovative minds in the podcasting industry to turbocharge our efforts.”