Podcast app

NPR and public radio group buy popular Pocket Casts podcast app


NPR, This American life, WNYC Studios and WBEZ Chicago have teamed up to purchase Pocket Casts, a cross-platform podcast app. Public radio stations hope to improve the podcast discovery experience, help creators find new audiences, and improve producer knowledge.

The Pocket Casts Discovery section currently highlights featured, trending, and popular shows. The app also includes an Up Next feature, which can automatically create a podcast queue for you.

Developer Shifty Jelly said in a blog post that he had received offers from other suitors before, turned them all down. He accepted the group’s offer because “everything from their nonprofit mission goal to their unwavering belief that open and collaborative walled garden victories resonated deeply with us.” The developer insisted that nothing changes immediately in the app. Instead, he uses his new resources to improve Pocket Casts.

The Shifty Jelly team will continue to work on the app, with former iHeartRadio and Clear Channel VP Owen Grover join as CEO of Pocket Casts.

There is no real indication that the NPR Group will be using Pocket Casts as their exclusive podcast home – they’re in public radio, after all, and Pocket Casts is a paid app. NPR has its own app, NPR One, and still distributes its podcasts through other apps and platforms.

Shifty Jelly hinted at some future plans for Pocket Casts. There may be some features of NPR One that are built in, such as notifying the app when you like a story on its custom feed and skipping the ones that interest you least. It could help Pocket Casts know your preferences and suggest new shows in a more personalized way, perhaps through the Up Next queue.

At the very least, the move will help the public radio group have a more dedicated home within the podcast application diaspora. Members could use the immense popularity of their shows to direct listeners to Pocket Casts, although NPR has been reluctant to promote its own podcasts and apps.

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