The people behind the insanely successful podcast My Favorite Murder are expanding their reach with a new podcasting network.
Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark, who created and host the true crime/comedy show, are launching a project called Exactly Right, in partnership with the podcasting platform Stitcher. The network will incubate and produce its own set of podcasts, which they say will span a diverse set of topics. They haven’t announced the lineup yet, but they say those details will come soon.
According to Kilgariff and Hardstark, this network was part of the plan ever since they signed a deal with Midroll Media–Stitcher’s parent company–last year. Then, My Favorite Murder had been around for a little over a year and already amassed a ravenous audience. In September 2017, the show boasted 1 million listeners per episode. Now, it brings in about 19 million listeners each month.
It’s been nearly a year since the duo joined Midroll, and we’re starting to see how they’ve been building out their business. Ad revenue is, of course, part of the model, but it’s only the beginning. The hosts have also been touring internationally with its live shows, as well as selling merchandise to their fanbase. Last week, they announced they were working on a book, set to be published next year. And now we have this network announcement, which will let Kilgariff and Hardstark incubate new talent and expand their reach–all while giving Stitcher more shows to sell ads against.
Kilgariff tells me the network will codify something they’ve been doing all along: recommending podcasts, both on the show itself and in general to anyone who will listen. Exactly Right, she says, lets the hosts “take a little bit of ownership of it.” The network is “a cool way to use the renown that this podcast has earned us.”
“I think that’s what’s cool about our podcast–[listeners] respect our opinions, they like to think about our ideas,” Hardstark adds. “We’re able to steer these ideas into making them professional podcasts.”
Breaking out of the genre mold
Exactly Right proudly embraces its My Favorite Murder roots, but the founders say the new network intentionally runs the gamut in terms of subject matter. Its website says it will feature “bold, creative voices to bring to life provocative, entertaining and relatable stories for audiences everywhere.”
According to Kilgariff, in the earlier days of podcasting, networks were generally where you went for themes: “Oh, this is where you go for comedy.” Now, a looser trend is emerging. “I feel like it’s based more on personalities,” she says, “like a friend that would recommend you stuff.”
Stitcher and Midroll Media CEO Erik Diehn echoes this sentiment, adding that networks now make it easier for hungry listeners to wade through the thousands of shows available. “We have gone back and forth over the years,” he says, “given the huge number of podcasts in the world.” These collections of podcasts, he decided, will lead to better discovery. “Networks, in some ways, fill a role in helping others find shows.”
Of course, there needs to be something to the network–be it a personality or theme. For My Favorite Murder and Exactly Right, it’s Kilgariff and Hardstark, who have spent years honing their voice and creating a rabid following.
This gives Stitcher the opportunity to expand its talent roster. The entire company, says Diehn, was “built around the idea of helping great talent to build great shows.” Exactly Right matches Stitcher with shows that can use the prominence of My Favorite Murder as a springboard. This model has worked for other networks. Diehn cites The Ringer and Nerdist as two singular online entities that have successfully built out entire podcasting networks.
Most importantly, Exactly Right is a way for the My Favorite Murder duo to help other podcast creators reach their level of success. “It’s wonderful to see people who have achieved such amazing success in a really short period of time,” says Diehn. With the network, “we’re going to be able to take that success and amplify other creators and artists.”
For the creators, it’s more than just business opportunities, but the chance to grow the My Favorite Murder sphere. “It’s almost like an expansion,” Hardstark says, “this is our own Marvel universe.”