Podcast company

Acast buys New York Times-backed podcast company RadioPublic

Growing podcast audiences have led to a trading frenzy led by music streaming providers Spotify, Apple and Amazon. Today, industry giant Acast is looking to expand its reach through a major acquisition. The company has purchased the New York Times-RadioPublic, a podcast tech startup backed for an undisclosed price.

As part of the deal, Acast will get their hands on RadioPublic’s listeners discovery platform, designed to help podcasters identify and connect with new fans, and its experienced management team who have played a decisive role in the development of the media. Co-founders Chris Quamme Rhoden (CTO) and Matt MacDonald (Chief Product Officer), who helped create the first generation of apps for This American life and WNYC, both make the transition to the Acast fold. Their co-founder Jake Shapiro left to join Apple Podcasts as Head of Creator Partnerships in September.

RadioPublic began life in 2016 as a not-for-profit Public Radio Exchange public benefit corporation. This decision allowed the new company to make money while balancing its public service mission. An eponymous app followed in 2017 with the aforementioned audience development tools. On Times, the company’s investors include notable media and audio technology players in Graham Holdings, the Knight Foundation Enterprise Fund, NPR affiliate WGBH, and the venture capital arm of Bose.

Acast now plans to develop RadioPublic in order to increase its audience and revenues. The Sweden-based company already hosts 20,000 podcast feeds and recently partnered with creators membership platform Patreon to deliver customer-only podcasts on major platforms. Acast said the acquisition will not affect RadioPublic’s app or services.

The deal is the latest in a long line of acquisitions led by music streamers seeking to provide users with episodic, long-running content in order to keep them glued to their services. Spotify led the charge by taking over a popular media company, The ring, and lock The Joe Rogan Experience exclusively. Earlier this month, it announced that its investment was paying off, with a quarter of its 345 million users now listening to podcasts.

Meanwhile, Amazon (a late entrant to the industry) caught up by acquiring podcast maker Wondery in December. And industry mainstay Apple is reportedly working on a podcast subscription plan as part of its service focus.

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