Media Briefing: How publishers plan to step up their podcast strategies in 2022
By Tim Peterson
In this week’s Media Briefing, media reporter Sara Guaglione looks at how publishers are planning to scale up their podcast businesses in 2022.
- Listen up
- 2021: The year in publisher M&A
- Privacy power plays
- Digital ad market’s Q4 dip, BuzzFeed’s stock selling setback and more
The key hits:
- The Atlantic, Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post have appointed new heads of audio.
- Publishers expect to grow headcount on their audio teams in 2022.
- Slate and Vox are upping their episode frequency for some of their biggest shows.
- More partnerships between publishers and other organizations are coming.
- Vice and The Washington Post want their podcasts to draw more from their international newsrooms.
As publishers continue to churn out new podcast shows, the space is consolidating. As podcast giants like Spotify build out their own in-house production arms with The Ringer and Gimlet Media, media companies are being pushed to find ways to similarly size up to stand out amid an increasingly saturated podcast marketplace.
The number of English-language podcast series on the market increased by 39% from January 2020 through October 2021, according to podcast analytics and ad platform Backtracks. The number of podcast episodes increased by 20% in that time period. Fortunately for publishers, podcast listeners’ appetites have similarly gone up. In a recent survey of 2,000 U.S. adults from Nielsen and podcast hosting and monetization company Acast, 52% of those surveyed who consume podcasts at least monthly increased the amount of time they spent listening over the past six months. (However, the study did not include data on overall podcast listening time).
To fight for eardrums heading into 2022, publishers are spreading out their podcast efforts. They are expanding their podcast teams and appointing new audio leaders as well as planning to push out more episodes and in more parts of the world.
New heads of audio
- Renita Jablonski, director of audio at The Washington Post, joined the team in July.
- That month, The New York Times named Paula Szuchman its first director of audio.
- Jazmín Aguilera was named head of audio at the L.A. Times in November.
- On Dec. 13, The Atlantic announced Claudine Ebeidw will lead The Atlantic’s audio team as executive producer. Ebeid was previously at The New York Times, and spent eight years at NPR.
Headcounts expected to grow next year
Shani Hilton, managing editor for new initiatives at the L.A. Times, expects the L.A. Times’ audio team to “probably double” next year, from its current total of 10 under Aguilera.
The Washington Post also has plans to expand the audio team, which is currently made up of about 20 people, Jablonski said. While she didn’t say how many people the Post was looking to hire, she said she wants the team to be able to handle having “more things happening at once” while working on enterprise and breaking news stories, Jablonski said. “We want to really build the team in a way so that we can have more things happening at once so that enterprise work continues and breaking news stories can be taken care …read more