Podcast Week: Acast expanding, Newscast, Urnbelievable, Chernobyl

• Working with partners has been key to Acast’s growth in this market.

Major publishers Seven & 10 helping grow the Acast platform

Henrik Isaksson (top image) is the managing director of Acast in Australia and New Zealand. The growth of the sector has kept him busy for the past two years after first moving to Australia from Stockholm with Spotify seven years ago.

Working with partners has been key to Acast’s growth in this market. The Australian business is a partnership between Acast and Nova Entertainment. They in turn work with other content creators.

“We have seen an influx of content from traditional publishers,” Isaksson told Mediaweek. “Those publishers include Channel Seven and Network 10. Traditionally those companies don’t play in the audio space but they have now all created bespoke business units dedicated to podcasting.

Isaksson said this is exactly what the industry needs. “When those big organisations start beating the drum we are able to get more brands involved and more advertisers come to the industry which is what we need.”

Isaksson also noted that not only has the sector been booming, but Acast’s audience has more than doubled in size. “We now have more than 20m listens a month on the platform. That’s just in Australia.”

The Acast partnership with Seven includes the recent real crime podcast The Lady Vanishes. “It has had more than 2.5m listens in the past couple of months.”

Acast has worked with Network 10 on its new bespoke business unit 10 Speaks.

Isaksson noted the Nova Entertainment sales team works on podcast monetising in addition the respective podcaster’s sales teams.

“The aspirations for our partners is to become audio on demand sellers. What we typically see is Acast and Nova selling before the publishers start. The audio space is quite complicated, not like traditional media sales. Nova has been fantastic when it comes to that and has done a great job when it comes to monetising the content.”

Globally Acast is adding staff to cope with the growth. Isaksson said in the past three months staff numbers have jumped from 101 to 169. Staff numbers have doubled in Australia in that period.

We have recently released a product called Acast Access which will soon come to Australia. It is a paywall for podcasters. Publishers are able to charge for the content regardless what platform they listen to.”

Isaksson said the paywall model is currently being tested in the UK with The Economist and The Financial Times. The audio content from those publishers is being made available exclusively to subscribers.

Windowing content is also available on the new product, making it available to all after an initial subscriber-only period.

When it comes to the hottest content, Isaksson points to true crime. “Listeners still seem to have an insatiable appetite for that.”

Another trend is what he called short, snackable content. “Frequency is also key, daily podcasts are doing very well.”

News Corp appoints Ainslee O’Brien to lead NewsCast

News Corp Australia has announced that Ainslee O’Brien will lead the company’s new audio network, NewsCast.

While being responsible for the operations of NewsCast, O’Brien will be tasked with evolving the operating model and best practice for audio across News Corp Australia including building out a leading audio network across the content offering, platform, and commercial and subscriber model.

NewsCast was a key announcement at Come Together 2019 earlier this year as the company makes a substantial investment in podcasting,

O’Brien assumes responsibility of NewsCast immediately and will begin with the recruitment of a head of audio. The new division will leverage the momentum of recent podcast successes, including Who the Hell is Hamish, the True Crime series and The Teacher’s Pet.

Read more here.

Brexitcast podcast to get late-night BBC One slot

The BBC has announced its award-winning podcast, Brexitcast, is to make its TV debut in September.

The podcast, hosted by political editor Laura Kuenssberg, Europe editor Katya Adler, and correspondents Adam Fleming and Chris Mason, will be shown on BBC One, late on Thursday nights.

It’s the first BBC podcast to be commissioned as a BBC television program.

Podcast ad revenue study forecasting US$1b in two years

The third annual Podcast Revenue Report by IAB and PwC confirms solid and increasing growth in the US podcast advertising marketplace. The report, which surveyed top US revenue producing podcast companies on various data points, reports continued growth trends at the individual publisher level. The report adds an independent market sizing element, which echoes the pattern of increasing marketwide revenues into 2021 and beyond.

This year’s report finds marketers spent US$479 million to advertise on podcasts in the US, an uptick of 53% from US$314 million in 2017. Based on market trends and surveys returned by significant podcast companies in the US, the report projects that revenues will top US$1 billion in 2021.

Driving the growth in revenues is podcast listening which continues to surge in the US, increasing 7% in one year. More than half of the 12+ population has listened. Meanwhile, podcast listeners continue to respond well to ads, scoring high marks in terms of engagement with ads as well as responsiveness.

Chernobyl: Hit series also a hit podcast

The official podcast of the miniseries Chernobyl, from HBO and Sky, is performing well around the world. The series is hosted by Peter Sagal (from NPR’s Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!) and TV series creator, writer and executive producer Craig Mazin. For each episode they discuss the true stories that shaped the scenes, themes and characters.

Listen to the Chernobyl podcast here.

Urnbelieveable World Cup Podcast

Returning this month from ABC podcasts:

After a traumatic year for cricket, Australia is out to prove that it’s learned the lessons of the ball tampering scandal. Expect less sledging and more Tim Paine as captain (World Cup notwithstanding) as Australia attempt to keep the Ashes and win the World Cup in the UK.

Keeping watch over the boundary for this podcast are Andy Zaltzman and Felicity Ward as they return with the funniest cricket show in two countries – just in time for The World Cup and the Ashes.

Listen to the recent return of Urnbelievable here.

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