SiriusXM to Acquire Podcast Platform Stitcher

SiriusXM Satellite Radio
Courtesy of SiriusXM

       

SiriusXM is in advanced talks to acquire podcast platform Stitcher from E.W. Scripps Co., sources tell The Hollywood Reporter.

The acquisition gives the satellite radio company a foothold in the burgeoning podcast business, which is led by rival-in-audio Spotify. The deal is expected to be announced later this week, the sources said.

A spokesman for SiriusXM did not respond to a request for comment. A spokeswoman for Stitcher declined to comment.

In addition to the Stitcher app, the company also encompasses advertising arm Midroll Media and podcast network Earwolf, which is behind such shows as Scott Aukerman's Comedy Bang! Bang! and Office Ladies. The executive team has years of podcasting experience, which can help boost Sirius's know-how in the burgeoning field.

The deal follows Sirius's mid-June purchase of podcast hosting and distribution company Simplecast, which works with clients like Netflix. Sirius — which serves as the exclusive home to Howard Stern — grew its podcast business with the 2019 acquisition of online radio platform Pandora, which allows podcasters to upload their shows for distribution among its 61 million monthly listeners.

Stitcher launched in 2008 to offer an alternative to Apple Podcasts. After a brief period under Deezer ownership, Scripps acquired the company in 2016.

The podcast industry has changed dramatically in the last few years following the entrance of music streaming company Spotify, which has scooped up podcast studios Gimlet, Parcast and The Ringer and landed exclusive streaming rights to several high-profile shows, including The Joe Rogan Experience. Now, industry observers largely view the podcast landscape as a two-platform race between tech giants Spotify and Apple.

Stitcher's app, which offers more than 100,000 titles, serves as an alternative to Spotify or Apple Podcasts. A premium version of the app, which costs $5 per month (or $35 for the year), removes the ads and features exclusive and early-access programming.

Scripps' Stitcher division brought in $17.1 million in operating revenue for the first quarter of the year, up 13 percent from the same period a year earlier.

Scripps has been looking to offload Stitcher for some time as it faces pressure in its core local television business. But the once-frothy podcast market has been weathering its own rocky period as the coronavirus pandemic caused a softening ad market and a decline in listenership. (Both seem to have returned to relatively stable levels as the shutdown has continued.) Sources tell THR that Sony Music also looked at Stitcher, which was hoping to fetch around $300 million for the sale. 

The Wall Street Journal previously reported on the deal talks.

This article was originally published by The Hollywood Reporter.

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