iHeartMedia, the largest U.S. radio broadcaster, is betting big on the future of podcasts, acquiring Stuff Media and its dozens of podcasts on Thursday.
The deal is for $55 million, according to the Wall Street Journal, which was first to report the story. Stuff Media produces a popular slate of podcasts, including “How Stuff Works,” which pulled in 5 million streams in the U.S. — and 61 million globally — last month, according to data from Podtrac, making it the fifth most popular podcast in the world.
“While podcasting has already experienced tremendous growth, the real opportunity to bring the full potential of podcasts to the mainstream still lies ahead,” Bob Pittman, iHeartMedia chief executive, said in a statement. “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.”
Combined, iHeartMedia and Stuff Media create a podcasting juggernaut; iHeartMedia, thanks to its hundreds of radio shows, had more than 5.5 million streams last month. Only NPR boasted more U.S. podcast listens last month, according to Podtrac.
iHeartMedia, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy earlier this year, is investing in a small — by advertising metrics — but growing medium. Seventy-three million Americans listen to podcasts each month, doubling in audience size in the last five years, according to data from Edison Research.
“We’re in a period of renaissance in audio,” Pittman told WSJ. “Our strategy has not been, ‘Let’s do radio.’ It’s been, ‘Let’s be where our listeners are.'”
Privately-held Stuff Media secured $15 million in funding last year from Raine Group. Wednesday’s deal is one of the biggest in podcast history, and comes after Pandora acquired AdWizz, a digital outlet that supplies podcast ads, in May for about $145 million.