SiriusXM to Acquire Podcast Platform Stitcher from Scripps

Deal is estimated to be around $300 million.

SiriusXM is beefing up its podcast offerings by acquiring podcast platform Stitcher from E. W. Scripps Co. The deal is estimated to be around $300 million, reports the Wall Street Journal. The companies have not yet commented on the acquisition, but additional information is expected to come later this week. Stitcher has more than 100,000 podcast titles and is available for iOS, Android, PC, Alexa, Apple’s CarPlay or Google’s Android Auto and more than 50 car models. Stitcher was acquired by Scripps from Deezer in 2016.

Launched in 2008, Stitcher is a podcast platform that utilizes the freemium model. Listeners can download and listen to their favorite podcasts for free or subscribe to a premium version with for an ad-free listening experience and other extras. Available for $4.99 billed monthly or $35 a year billed annually, the premium version of the Stitcher app includes:

Stitcher uses the freemium model, offering listeners a free version of the app as well as a paid, premium version available via subscription.
  • Streaming and downloading favorite podcasts like NPR’s Fresh Air, WTF with Marc Maron, WYNYC’s Radiolab, Grammar Girl, The Onion or This American Life
  • Access to exclusive podcasts and bonus episodes
  • Early access to podcasts
  • Ad-free listening (some podcasts include ads which Stitcher cannot remove)
  • 300+ comedy albums
  • Monthly swag giveaways
  • Free shipping on purchases made on Podswag.com
  • Access to exclusive giveaways

Stitcher Podcasting Report

In May, Stitcher released the “Stitcher Podcasting Report” on how the company has seen podcasting change. Highlights from the report include the following.

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  • Since 2010, the number of podcasts on Stitcher has grown 129,000%.
  • Two-thirds of podcasts are streamed rather than downloaded.
  • In 2019, nearly 7 million episodes were published on Stitcher.
  • True crime is the most popular topic, followed by comedy, news and politics.
  • Mini-series are becoming more popular. In 2010, there were four mini-series. Now there are more than 52,000.
  • Episodes have shorted by 2.4 minutes since 2013.
  • Peak listening times are Monday through Thursday during commuting hours.
  • Millennials (age 18-34) make up the biggest group of listeners, but Gen X (35-55) have greater listening hours and more shows added as favorites.
  • California had the most listening hours at 15+ million, followed by Texas and New York at 7+ million, Washington at 5+ million, and Illinois at 4+ million.

“Like Stitcher, podcast listening has been growing strong for over a decade now, and we wanted to take a moment and reflect on the diversity of tastes and consumption habits that have driven that growth,” said Erik Diehn,  Stitcher CEO. “The data we found reinforce our belief that the unique, intimate appeal of podcasting makes its fans the most loyal and passionate of any medium.”

Listening to podcasts slowed down at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, but returned to normal starting in about mid-April.

“The podcast industry has shown its resiliency and ability to be nimble as hosts made a swift transition from recording studios to home, keeping a steady cadence of new episodes,” said Diehn. “And even as day-to-day life has been transformed, people continue to turn to trusted and beloved shows and hosts to be informed and uplifted.”

Podcasts Growing in Popularity

Statista reports that the number of Americans who listen to podcasts monthly has grown consistently over the last three years.

The number of Americans who listen to podcasts monthly has grown steadily since 2017.
Courtesy of Statista

In June, SiriusXM acquired Simplecast, a podcast management platform that allows podcasts to publish, manage and measure their podcasting content. Simplecast works with monetization platform, AdsWizz, to help creators generate revenue from their published podcasts. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Insider Take:

With the growing popularity of podcasts, and competition from Spotify and Apple, this is a smart strategic play by SiriusXM. The subscription-based satellite radio company wants to serve the listening market, whether through its own service, streaming music service Pandora, or through podcasts. Adding an established service like Stitcher will help SiriusXM build its podcast market faster than the company could do on its own.