Entercom, one of the biggest US radio corporations, thinks podcasts are essential to the future of audio. The company announced today that it’s acquired two big names in podcasting: Pineapple Street Media, a content network, and Cadence13, an ad distribution platform and production company. The Wall Street Journal reports that the Pineapple deal is worth $18 million, and the Cadence13 deal cost Entercom nearly $50 million.
Under the acquisition agreement, Pineapple Street will change its name to Pineapple Street Studios, a division of Entercom’s Radio.com (a website and app), and will focus on creating shows and working with partners like Netflix and HBO. Cadence13 will continue to operate as is and work with its clients, like Crooked Media and Malcolm Gladwell’s Pushkin Industries. Entercom says it’s now considering experimenting with exclusive or windowed content that’ll first premiere on Radio.com but later become available more widely, a trend we’ve already seen play out across the industry with the launch of podcast startups like Luminary as well as Spotify’s focus on exclusive shows. In Spotify’s case, at least, it has millions of users already accessing the app. It’s unclear how popular Radio.com is and whether anyone is loyal enough to podcasts that they’ll come to the website or download the app to listen.
Entercom owns more than 235 radio stations across the US that reach 170 million listeners each month. This deal clearly sets it up to compete with iHeartMedia, one of the biggest names in radio. Last year, iHeart acquired Stuff Media, the podcast network behind HowStuffWorks, for $55 million. Since then, iHeart has launched multiple podcasts, including the Ron Burgundy Podcast with Will Ferrell. The company leverages its 858 radio stations to expand its podcasts’ reach. The team played the Ron Burgundy Podcast across its radio stations, for example, bridging the connection between the conventional idea of a podcast, which typically lives as an RSS feed, and traditional terrestrial radio. The message is clear: the future of audio involves podcasts, whatever that word eventually comes to mean.