Weekly round-up: Everything is illuminated

Hello podheads, what an action packed week last week was! Here’s issue #28


The Infinite Dial 2019 report was published last week and 2018 was nothing short of a landmark year for podcasting. There was good growth across all the major parameters. I’d highly recommend checking out the full report but here are the highlights:

  1. 7 in 10 Americans are now familiar with the term “podcasting”. That’s an estimated 197 million people. By the way, these people are just familiar with the term and may not necessarily be listeners of podcasts – important distinction.
  2. The percentage of people who have ever listened to a podcast now stands at 51%. A substantial jump from 44% last year. That’s an estimated 144 million people. Safe to say podcasts are now in the mainstream.
  3. 32% of Americans responded having listened to a podcast in the last month. That’s an estimated 90 million people, significant jump from 26% last year.
  4. Growth in listening share among men is growing faster but there was growth among women too.
  5. Significant growth in monthly listeners in the 12-24 age group.
  6. Weekly podcast listeners grew to 22% from 17 last year. That’s an estimated 62 million people.

Here’s the growth in numbers:

Infinite Dial 2019

Luminary unveils itself

Luminary Media, the podcasting startup that had raised $100 million in funding even before it had a product made itself known to the world last week. The New York Times ran a piece replete with several details of a company that wants to be and forgive me for saying this “Netflix of podcasting”.

“We want to become synonymous with podcasting in the same way Netflix has become synonymous with streaming,” 

Matt Sacks, CEO, Luminary Media

While everybody thought that Luminary will be an exclusives only platform, turns out, that’s not the case. The app/platform will just be like any other podcasting app that aggregates open feeds. Seems like the company wants to attract users and then convert them into premium subscribers. With 2466 (random number) podcatchers out there already, it remains to be seen as to why an user would download one more.

Here are deets in short:

  1. Luminary will launch with a slate of 40 shows, a mix of both new and existing ones. The app is set to launch by July.
  2. The company employs 70 people with 40 of them being engineers. Damn!
  3. The content line-up includes shows by Guy Raz, Trevor Noah, Adam Davidson, Leon Neyfakh, Jacob Weisberg & Malcolm Gladwell (Pushkin Industries), Lena Dunham, Omari Hardwick, Bill Simmons, and others.
  4. Existing shows such as Handsome Rambler with Hannibal Buress,
    Under the Skin with Russell Brand, Love + Radio by Nick van der Kolk and WNYC’s Note to Self by Manoush Zomorodi will now become exclusive on Luminary.

Will the company succeed? Well, your guess is as good as mine. But it will interesting to see how Luminary performs in a podcasting environment that’s getting exciting by the day.

Also, read and listen to: Melissa Locker had an interesting perspective on the whole “Netflix of podcasting” thing.
How public media should read the Luminary news by Andrew Ramsammy
It’s not your dad’s radio, but can podcast ever truly cross over into the mainstream? – Tom Lydon

As you’d expect, proponents of the open podcasting ecosystem had some strong opinions on this. Here are some highlights.

Spotify watch

Spotify’s mega acquisitions, predictably and understandably have worried many podcasting veterans and purists. The big question so far has been, what does it mean for the open podcasting ecosystem and what will happen to Gimlet?

Ashley Carman over at The Verge had a really nice piece on Spotify’s podcasting strategy.

Matt Leiber and Alex Blumberg, the founders of Gimlet have taken every opportunity to reassure listeners that nothing is going to drastically change post their acquisition by Spotify. Speaking to Nick Quah at the HotPod Summit, Matt Leiber had this to say:

Gimlet is continuing; we’re continuing the work, continuing to make shows that are going to be distributed widely, and that brand is going to continue with our new boss organization.
Everything is continuing as it was.


Also read: Castbox CEO: Spotify acquisitions ‘validation’ for whole podcast industry

Sirius is getting serious

After the launch of Pandora Stories, Sirius which owns Pandora last week announced a new content team to be led by Scott Greenstein, chief content officer. The team will focus on:

Creating original content in music, sports, and talk content ranging across comedy, politics, and entertainment, for Pandora listeners, including a selection of SiriusXM content, and creating original Pandora content for the SiriusXM audience.


The New York Times is beefing up its audio division. The publisher announced 5 new hires last week.

Jared Hohlt is the new editor in chief of Slate. Jared will fill in the void left by Julia Turner, who left Slate to Join The LA Times.

NBC and MSNBC are expanding their podcast team heading into the US presidential election, next year.

On Monday, NBC News is announcing the first of several hires this year for its digital audio and podcasts group, which was formed in November 2018. That group, just two people at present, could grow up to 10 people by the end of the year, according to Steve Lickteig, the executive producer of audio and podcasts for NBC News and MSNBC.

Wondery is reportedly in talks with showrunners for a TV adaptation of Over My Dead Body.

Here’s something you don’t hear every day. The latest amenity being offered by boutique luxury hotels – podcast studios. I kid you not!

How The Economist Uses Podcasts To Drive Revenue. converting podcast listeners into paying subscribers is a hard proposition and issue with which The Financial Times has been grappling with as well.

Podcast overload has real casualties. Marcus Gilmer,
Assistant Real-Times News Editor over at Mashable is giving up on podcasts.

Here’s the real problem: I could listen to podcasts, on double speed, for every waking minute of my week and still not come close to chipping away at the stack of all of the episodes piling up in my queue. It’s the result of something good: my enthusiasm for so many things. But somewhere along the line it’s taken a bad turn.

Getting serious are we, Google? Starting this week, Google Podcasts will surface episodes in its search results.

Posted by Bhuvanesh

A podcast junkie on a mission to make podcasts great.

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