In case you had any doubt that podcasts were increasingly both mainstream and corporate, iHeartMedia just announced its acquisition of Stuff Media for $55 million. Stuff Media is the publisher behind the pioneering podcast network HowStuffWorks, which itself is behind shows like Stuff You Should Know, Stuff You Missed in History Class, TechStuff, BrainStuff, and a few other shows with and without “stuff” in the name.
The news isn’t as surprising as it would normally be, as just last week iHeart announced it was partnering with HowStuffWorks to launch season two of the mega-hit podcast Atlanta Monster and air it on its network of broadcast radio stations, which reportedly reach more than 90% of Americans each month.
The move solidifies iHeartMedia as a major player in the podcasting realm. Even before the purchase, iHeartRadio podcast listening had rocketed by 73% between 2017 and 2018, thanks in part to its “Podcast, Meet Broadcast” initiative, which saw it partner with the biggest podcast publishers around, like NPR, WNYC, ESPN, and Gimlet. (Earlier this year, iHeartMedia filed for bankruptcy protection in a restructuring bid, as the traditional radio industry continues to struggle.)
In addition to hosting other people’s content and airing shows like Anna Faris is Unqualified, the iHeartRadio Podcast Network hosts more than 750 iHeartRadio Original shows.
“HowStuffWorks was a proud pioneer of the podcasting medium more than 10 years ago, and we are truly excited to be taking the next step with iHeart to chart the industry’s course for the next decade,” said Stuff Media CEO Conal Byrne in a statement. “Combining our assets with the No. 1 audio and media company, and No. 1 commercial podcast publisher, gives us the unassailable position in the podcasting business and a platform like no one else. No company in the world has iHeart’s audience size and innovative drive, and coupled with the creative engine of Stuff Media, this is a game changer for podcast storytellers and advertisers alike, and I’m honored to be leading this effort.”
Byrne will head up iHeartMedia’s podcast division—if the bankruptcy court approves the sale, as iHeartMedia is still working to recover. Perhaps podcasts will be the solution?