Paramount slows down its podcast production launch pace as market comes ‘back to Earth’

April 03, 2023

By Sara Guaglione

Paramount will launch fewer podcast shows this year than in years past and will be more selective about which shows get developed going forward.

“It was a phenomenally fun and exciting two years of a lot of big spending in the podcast space, and really big deals and a lot of money and things got a bit frothy,” Steve Raizes, Paramount’s evp of podcasting and audio, said on Wednesday at the Digiday Publishing Summit in Vail, Colorado. “What we’re now feeling is a market correction. It’s a ‘come back to Earth.’ Podcasting is going to be governed by actual economics.”

Paramount isn’t alone: The Guardian reported last month that the number of new podcast shows dropped 80% worldwide compared with the two previous years. Data from podcast engine Listen Notes showed 219,000 shows debuted last year, down from 729,000 new titles in 2021.

While Raizes didn’t have a number to share when asked how many new podcast shows Paramount will launch this year, he said “it is going to be fewer shows on a brand by brand basis.”

Paramount has 120 podcasts in its network. “Honestly, it’s a lot. As we go forward, we’re going to be evaluating everything and making sure that the audience is there and we’re certainly not going to be going at that pace going forward,” Raizes said.

Paramount’s numbers are up

Though Paramount is taking a more prudent approach to podcast launches this year, the company’s podcast downloads and revenue are up, Raizes said. Revenue increased 183% year over year, and downloads are up 42% year over year, he said, without providing exact figures.

“We’ve been very deliberately judicious in how we’ve approached this, even in kind of the fat times. We didn’t try to do any M&A. We tried to grow the team organically,” Raizes said.

And while Paramount is still drawing in budgets from a mix of new and existing advertisers, according to Raizes, he noted a “general advertiser hesitancy right now. It is a tricky time.” Paramount’s strategy to combat this is to offer host-read ads from its talent roster from existing TV shows and franchises, such as “Survivor” host Jeff Probst for the companion podcast “On Fire with Jeff Probst.”

“I think all podcasting is going to be in a different state going forward. I think everyone’s going to be a little more buttoned up,” Raizes said.

Change in strategy

In the past, Paramount was testing and producing more podcast shows when there was a “big push for content,” Raizes said. But in the past six months, “we are being much more judicious in terms of what we’re putting out,” he said.

Going forward, Paramount will only produce podcasts that are “really differentiated,” Raizes said. Overall, Paramount’s focus will be on shows that are franchise extensions of shows like “Star Trek,” “The Daily Show” or “48 Hours.”

“A good show is not necessarily a good pod. That’s a critical piece to figure out and that took us a while. Because it’s hard to say no,” Raizes said. “We’re …read more

Source:: Digiday