Weekly Roundup: No, the podcast bubble isn’t bursting

With another digital native media organization deciding to get out of out the podcasting business a lot of posts were written about a “podcast bubble”. In this edition, we try to break that down. Issue #9

Bubbles everywhere!

Matthew Ingram had a piece in CJR titled “Is the podcast bubble bursting?”. This was in light of the Buzzfeed announcement that it’s cutting its in-house podcasting team.

In the post, he compares the current situation in podcasting with the now infamous phase of “pivot to video”. I kinda disagree with this because the pivot to video was in large part necessitated due to the failings of the ad support media model. As media companies faced existential threats, they pivoted to video because that’s where advertisers wanted to deploy their budgets.

The second major reason was that Facebook decided to prioritize video and where Facebook goes, publishers follow it like sheep. When Facebook decided to prioritize posts from friends and family, all these publishers were left in the lurch. So, I don’t think this is an apt comparison and of course, I might be wrong.

A company like Buzzfeed deciding to shift focus from podcasting cannot be considered as a sign that the entire medium is in trouble. Why? Because podcasting is just seeing a modest growth in audiences in the US. Although I’d like to say the US and across the world, we don’t have enough data about the rest of the world.

Buzzfeed has raised half a billion dollars from VCs and that means, that they’ll be clamouring for an exit. This can happen only if the company decides to go public, which it was supposedly on track until it missed revenue targets last year.

With such pressures from investors, a company is bound to expect immediate payoffs and that simply cannot happen in podcasting. The medium is just catching the eye of advertisers. But a lot of apprehensions remain about the lack of data and measurement standards for advertisers and this will only change as the medium evolves.

So, No! The podcast bubble hasn’t formed let alone burst. 

The recent developments involving Panoply and iHeart Media speak to the changing priorities and focus of the companies rather than the impending doom of the medium.  

David Beard had a good piece on these developments in Poynter presciently titled “In crowded field, some media companies sour on podcasts“. 

The following passage struck a chord with me. I think, this just about sums up the Buzzfeed development.

There are too many podcasts competing for a limited ad pool. Although listenership is reported as rising, it’s difficult to measure actual listeners, and the breakout “hits” are few and far between.
“Everybody wants a ‘Serial,’ but nobody wants to spend ‘Serial’ money,”

More on Panoply

James Cridland of Podnews had a Q&A with Brendan Monaghan, CEO of Panoply. In this chat, Brendan answers questions about the reasoning behind the decision to exit the original content business, what makes Megaphone special and more.


Hollywood execs want in on the podcasting action. We had in an earlier edition chronicled all the TV and movie adaptations of podcasts. The Hollywood Reporter ran a piece which looked at how Hollywood is looking for more than intellectual property for TV and Movie adaptations

No longer are agents and media executives focused purely on exploiting podcast IP for film and television. Now they are seeking a foothold in the fast-growing industry, which with $314 million in revenue last year is still small — but is expected to grow 110 percent to $659 million by 2020.

Speaking of Hollywood, Gimlet which has been the most noticeable player when it comes to licensing shows has hired Justin McGoldrick. 

The Illumination Entertainment and Montecito Picture Co. veteran will lead development of feature and TV projects based on Gimlet’s podcast franchises. He will be based in Los Angeles and report to Gimlet Pictures head Chris Giliberti. 

As a creative executive at Illumination since 2016, McGoldrick worked on such animated projects as MinionsSing and The Secret Life of Pets. At Montecito, he was involved in the all-female Ghostbusters remake.

Speaking to Peter Kafka on the Recode Media podcast earlier this year, Matt Leiber, the co-founder of Gimlet had said that the company’s  TV and Film unit Gimlet Pictures, was the fastest growing division in the company.

 Gimlet Pictures which only has started in the last year, which is licensing IP and then producing television and film, today is the smallest part of the business, but the fastest growing.

Digiday has a related piece titled “Why podcasting companies are getting more into scripted shows” 

HowStuffWorks President Conal Byrne boasted that 10 of his network’s 40 shows had been optioned for development into film or TV projects. Another set of HowStuffWorks shows is about to spawn a book series. HowStuffWorks and Gimlet have been hiring full-time producers to get more shows through the development process.

“There’s a bit of a feeding frenzy going on right now,” Byrne said. “You hear this mantra going around in Hollywood right now that podcasts are the new scripts.”

Not bad. No matter how this ends, these moves by Hollywood can potentially attract millions of new listeners to the podcast fold. Some major names such as Robert Downey Jr, Eric Bana, Julia Roberts, and Connie Britton are attached to movie and TV projects based on podcasts. Think about the names for a minute and just imagine the pull of these names. good times to come? 


Mike Luoma, creator of the Glow-in-the-Dark Radio podcast, in this post reflects on 12 years of podcasting. This is a long read but I highly recommend it.

Get them sharing

Steve Pratt of Pacific Content has an interesting post on the shareability problem of podcasts. 


The Newport Beach Police Department has launched a podcast in the hopes of hunting down a fugitive. Yes, you read that right. The podcast titled “Countdown to Capture” tells the story of Peter Chadwick, who killed his wife Quee in Newport Beach California in 2012. While out on bail, he just up and vanished in 2015, just as the case was about to go to trial. 

The show is hosted by Jennifer Manzella, spokesperson for the police department. Speaking to Rolling Stone, she said

“Peter Chadwick has been really difficult for us to track,” “He was able to withdraw millions of dollars from multiple bank accounts, and he also could take out cash advances on credit cards.”


Marketplace had a really interesting piece on podcasts in China.

Podcasts with subscription fees, interactive Q&A’s online with experts or celebrities and live-streaming lecture-sessions where the audience can participate and pay as they wish are what people in China refer to as the “pay-for-knowledge” economy.

It was estimated to be worth $7.3 billion last year, with the bulk of the revenues from paid podcasts, according to a research institute run by China’s State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television. The figure is focused only on consumers paying directly for content online and does not include ad-driven podcasts.

By comparison, the U.S. podcast industry mainly makes money through advertising. It reported ad revenues amounting to $314 million last year.

Well, how’s that for monetization. Of course, any data that comes out of China has to be take with a mountain of salt. But even of a fraction of the $7.3 billion number is true, that’s huge. 

Best Practices

Apple published a set of best practices for podcast marketing. Check out the guide here

Voices from India

New Launches

Being the Change

Hosted by Rohan Thakar, Being the Change is a new show which aims to highlight the people who have been working hard at bringing the change in the society, the ones who have been leading by example, the ones that take the path less travelled.

Humlab Originals

Brought to you by Sachin and Bhaven, Humlab is a conversational podcast with experts pursuing ideas focused on finding, developing, and scaling transformative ideas in the legal industry, law, and justice.


Tutalage is a podcast about guiding and inspiring listeners to achieve their biggest goals. The show features stories and interviews with successful individuals about their journey. 

300 episodes of Cyrus Says

This week also marks 300 episodes of ‘Cyrus Says’, the popular podcast from IVM podcasts hosted by comedian and former MTV VJ Cyrus Broacha of the MTV ‘Bakraa‘ fame. One of the most popular podcasts on the IVM network, Cyrus Says has been instrumental in making podcasts mainstream in India.

Launched as one of the first shows of IVM in March 2015, Cyrus Says is a conversational podcast with successful individuals from a broad array of industries and professions. Cyrus brings his quick wit and ample wisdom to the table which brings out hilarious conversations with his guests.

The conversations range from life stories to current topics and sometimes just plain gibberish. Though sometimes accused of talking ‘too much’ or talking over his guests, we absolutely love the charm and chemistry that Cyrus builds with his guests to give us some amusing conversations – a riot, to say the least. As a celebration of 300 episodes of Cyrus, our recommendations will feature what we think are some of the best episodes on Cyrus Says in no particular order, do check them out.

Podcasts & Podcasters

We are continuing the series of conversation in the run-up to International Podcast day. This week we spoke to Dave Lee, founder of International Podcast Day. 

Weekly Recommendations

This week’s edition is a bit unconventional. Hope you enjoy the recommendations.

That’s it for this edition. 🙂

Posted by Bhuvanesh

A podcast junkie on a mission to make podcasts great.

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