Mediaweek Interview: Acast Australia country manager Henrik Isaksson

Why the Acast-BBC deal is good news for the audio industry.

The coming six months are going to be interesting for the audio and voice technology company Acast. The organisation announced overnight that it has become the official commercial partner of the BBC to lead on the monetisation of its podcasts and audio outside UK.

With the addition of the podcasts produced by the BBC to its slate, Acast is expecting the number of listens coming from Australia to jump by two million per month.

“At the moment we are averaging about 3.3 million listens a month,” Acast country manager for Australia Henrik Isaksson told Mediaweek. “With the BBC announcement, we are expecting to average 5.5 million listens a month to come from Australia.”

In terms of listenership, the country is among the top five markets for BBC podcasts. It follows UK, US, China and Japan. “The market to date has been cluttered in Australia. The addition of BBC will definitely set us apart from everyone else. Nobody has access to that sort of content except us,” Isaksson said.

This gives Acast in Australia a unique selling point when it pitches to brands locally. “There have never been ads on the BBC content, which is exciting. We have a big job ahead of us. We now need to educate the market about what this means and the opportunities available. Opportunities like this don’t come around very often,” Isaksson said.

He argued that the move by the BBC to commercialise its podcast content outside UK isn’t good news just for Acast, but for the audio on-demand industry. “BBC is the largest, oldest and among the most respected publishers in the world. What this will do is put a spotlight on audio in general in Australia. Given the content they do carry, there is no doubt in my mind that it will attract more advertising dollars to the industry.”

The demand from advertisers to tap into the podcasting space recently has been phenomenal, Isaksson said. The audio on-demand industry in Australia is very different from what it was just over five years ago, when Isaksson moved to here to help set up Spotify. “I remember walking into offices in 2012 and the term streaming wasn’t really a thing. It was all about downloads.”

Nova Entertainment CEO Cathy O’Connor with Acast founders Karl Rosander and Mans Ulvestam

Local publishers currently working with Acast include BusinessInsider.com.au, The Betoota Advocate and POPSUGAR. “It’s testament of us doing the right thing,” Isaksson stated.

Acast entered the Australian market in early 2017 through a partnership with Nova Entertainment. Growing and nurturing this partnership will continue to be priority for Acast in Australia, along with finding female-led content to sign on the network.

CV: Henrik Isaksson

The Acast country manager for Australia is from Sweden, where he started his career in the mid-noughties in digital sales.

“I started working at an ad sales network in Sweden. I got in touch with that organisation by buying a bed on the Swedish equivalent of Gumtree called Blocket. [Laughs]

“It turned out that the guy I bought the bed from was the head of sales for the ad sales company and he wanted to employ me.”

Isaksson later went to work with various publishers in Sweden before working for Spotify there and in Australia. He took on his current role at Acast in 2017.

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