iHeartMedia has announced the acquisition of podcast publisher Stuff Media for $55 million.
Stuff Media is the parent company of the HowStuffWorks podcast business mostly focusing on history and science shows including Stuff You Should Know, Stuff You Missed in History Class, TechStuff and BrainStuff. The company recently debuted the top ranked true crime podcast produced in partnership with Tenderfoot TV: Atlanta Monster.
As part of the deal, Stuff Media CEO Conal Byrne will join iHeartMedia as head of its podcast division with Stuff Media becoming an Atlanta based studio under the iHeart umbrella. Byrne will report to iHeartMedia Networks Group and iHeartRadio President Darren Davis. Current EVP/Podcasting Chris Peterson continuing to oversee the iHeartRadio Original podcasts and affiliate relations while now reporting to Byrne.
The deal is pending bankruptcy court approval.
iHeartMedia, the leading audio company in America which also has a greater reach in the U.S. than any other media outlet, today announced it has entered into an agreement to acquire Stuff Media, LLC, the leading for-profit publisher of entertaining and informative podcast content, which includes the HowStuffWorks (HSW) podcasting business as well as a slate of premium podcast content. This acquisition will enable iHeartMedia to leverage Stuff Media’s original content, programming and experienced podcasting management team and to further expand its podcasting platform, increasing its position as the solid #1 commercial podcast publisher globally, #2 overall (Podtrac, 2018) and almost doubling its usage metrics.
iHeartRadio, iHeartMedia’s all-in-one digital music, podcast, on demand and live streaming radio service, is already partnered with all major podcast publishers and features more than 20,000 podcasts ranging from NPR and WNYC to ESPN and Gimlet, and the iHeartRadio Podcast Network hosts more than 750 iHeartRadio Original shows.
Originally founded in 1998 as a reference site, HowStuffWorks pioneered the podcast space and was one of the first companies to turn podcasting into a revenue-generating business, bringing the medium to a mainstream audience with its informative, easy-to-understand explanations of how the world works. Today, Stuff Media is one of the nation’s largest podcast publishers, with more than 61 million global downloads and streams per month. Its “Stuff” franchises have attracted a dedicated following for more than a decade, with signature podcast Stuff You Should Know surpassing 500 million downloads this year — the first podcast to surpass half a billion downloads. Atlanta Monster, a Stuff Media/Tenderfoot TV original true crime podcast that recently partnered with iHeartMedia, became the biggest hit podcast of 2018, and maintained the #1 spot on the podcast ranking charts for four straight weeks. Stuff Media’s Stuff You Should Know, Stuff You Missed in History Class, TechStuff and BrainStuff podcasts have all reached ten years of podcasting and over 1,000 published episodes milestones. The transaction is subject to bankruptcy court approval.
“While podcasting has already experienced tremendous growth, the real opportunity to bring the full potential of podcasts to the mainstream still lies ahead,” said Bob Pittman, Chairman and CEO of iHeartMedia, Inc. “Stuff Media is the original trailblazer of the podcasting industry, and we’ve been impressed by its ability to grow a massive, loyal audience over the past decade, led by a strong, experienced and cohesive management team, who we welcome to iHeartMedia. This strategic acquisition will pair Stuff Media’s wildly popular content and strong creative capabilities with iHeartMedia’s extensive resources and massive scale through our digital platforms, social reach and broadcast radio stations, introducing podcasts to the vast majority of the country and offering even more unique opportunities for advertisers to reach their consumers.”
Before this acquisition, iHeartRadio podcast listening growth has been up 73 percent year-over-year in 2018 vs. 2017. In addition to its extensive catalog of original podcasts, iHeartMedia’s “Podcast, Meet Broadcast” initiative enables podcast creators to uniquely scale their audience through iHeartMedia’s broadcast radio stations, which reach more than 90 percent of Americans each month. This innovative distribution strategy introduces millions of listeners to podcast content that they may not have heard otherwise, providing valuable opportunities for content creators and advertisers to build new audiences and create additional impact.
In 2017, Stuff Media, led by its President and CEO Conal Byrne, raised a growth equity financing round led by The Raine Group, a technology, media and telecommunications global merchant bank, to establish partnerships with industry leaders, grow Stuff Media’s content library across podcasting and other mediums, and invest in top-tier talent. “Podcasting has emerged over the last several years as a mainstream media distribution channel. With one of the largest and highest quality libraries in the industry, we believed that Stuff Media was well positioned to take advantage of accelerating demand from both consumers and advertisers,” said Jeff Sine, Partner and Co-Founder of The Raine Group. “Conal’s ability to assemble the resources to capitalize on these tailwinds and his execution on growth strategy has been exceptional. We are very excited for Conal and his team as Stuff Media enters its next chapter of growth.”
Conal Byrne will join iHeartMedia as head of its podcast division. Stuff Media’s podcasts will maintain their branding and remain headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia with Byrne continuing as President and CEO of that studio as well. Byrne will report into Darren Davis, President of the iHeartMedia Networks Group and iHeartRadio. Chris Peterson has been promoted to EVP of the podcasting division for iHeartMedia, and will oversee the full slate of iHeartRadio Original podcasts, as well as manage the affiliate relationships for the company, and will report into Byrne.
“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 Byrne. “Combining our assets with the #1 audio and media company, and #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.”
“In the past year alone, iHeartMedia’s podcasting has exploded,” said Davis. “Our robust slate of originals spans a wide range of topics, and we’re continuing to forge partnerships to bring the most compelling series to the iHeartRadio Podcast Network. In addition, our unique iHeartRadio podcasts from our influencers such as Bobby Bones, Elvis Duran, The Breakfast Club and others, have created a whole new category. By acquiring Stuff Media, we’ll not only integrate its slate of original content, but more importantly, we’ll gain the most innovative minds in the podcasting industry to turbocharge our efforts.”
iHeartRadio, with its more than 120 million registered users, provides an all-in-one listening experience that helps users discover new podcasts alongside their favorite live radio stations, personalities and on-demand music. With iHeartRadio, listeners can enjoy their music and podcasts across more than 250 device platforms including in-car, in-home, on wearables, across gaming consoles and more – making their favorite audio content available everywhere they are, on the devices they use most. Visit iHeart.com/apps to download and listen to iHeartRadio on your favorite device now.