The year in audio

We’re nearly there. 2022. These are times of deep uncertainty, so I’m glad I can offer you something you can depend on: a Hot Pod issue. I do what I can. Today, we have a light news roundup and some bullet points on trends to remember about the year. Both Aria and I published columns about a specific throughline from the year. Mine is about how all the investment in audio over the past 12 months was in service of capturing our ears’ unaccounted for attention, and Aria wrote about the year in which podcasters were highly represented on TV. You can read Aria’s here and mine here. Now, let’s get to the rest.

First, the news, which we’re going to get through quickly, so you can savor that sweet, sweet end-of-year content.

iHeart shares year-end numbers around the Black Effect Network

Let’s time travel back to September 2021. At that time, iHeartMedia teamed up with Charlamagne Tha God to launch the Black Effect Network, a network run by Black leaders with the goal of reaching Black audiences. Today, the iHeart Digital Audio Group exclusively shared details on the network’s past year or so with Hot Pod, as well as on its Latinx-focused network My Cultura, which launched in May.

Among the details: iHeart says 23 percent of its monthly podcast listeners, across all networks, are Black, up from 19 percent the year prior, and 21 percent are Hispanic, up from 18 percent in 2020. (The demographic data comes from Triton, the team says.) More specifically around the Black Effect Network, the team says ​​39 percent of all Black listeners to the iHeartPodcast Network listen to shows from the offshoot, which now includes 27 titles. Conal Byrne, CEO at iHeart Digital Audio Group, says the network accounts for more than 15 million downloads per month, as defined by the IAB.

“We spent a great deal of investment and energy last year” on these two new networks, Byrne says, and the resulting numbers are “validation” the efforts are worthwhile. “I think what changed for us about the Black Effect was creating this atmosphere of longer tail creators being able to jump into podcasting, so not necessarily, quote unquote, just Questlove or Jada Pinkett Smith, but also people like Jess Hilarious.”

I know all of y’all reading this have lots of feeling about data, so have at it and let me know what you think. I’m always happy to see more representation in podcasting, and if it helps introduce a more diverse audience to the medium? That’s great, too. A lovely note to wrap this one up.

Sorry, but I just have to point out Spotify’s “Pod City”

The Los Angeles Times covered Spotify’s new, sprawling campus and casually dropped what is seemingly its internal name: “Pod City.” This is not a joke! Pod City comprises only one section of the new campus, which supports 600 employees, has 18 podcast studios, a theater, an indoor stage, and “places for musicians to tinker with vintage instruments.” All right!

Nick profiles How Long Gone

Another shoutout for our friend Nick Quah over at Vulture (and one with a Spotify angle). He profiled How Long Gone, a show y’all know I’m also snacking on. For the numbers-oriented folks, hosts Chris Black and Jason Stewart say the show averages 30,000 downloads per episode. (They’re also primarily sponsored by Spotify’s Anchor.) The Financial Times profiled them, too, last week, under the angle of “podcasts capitalizing on friendships.” I think we can officially pronounce How Long Gone mainstream. Done!

Global, which operates ad exchange DAX, acquires hosting platform Captivate

Global, a media and entertainment group, announced its acquisition of the hosting platform Captivate yesterday. The release says Captivate hosts 14,000 shows and that the platform will directly integrate with Global’s DAX ad exchange. The idea clearly will be to make a bigger play for programmatic podcast ads by allowing these hosted shows to pull from that exchange for monetization. Programmatic keeps on comin’.

And now, on to our year-end content and a reminder that we’ll be back Tuesday with our predictions for 2022. We have to see where we went before we know where we’re going, however.

Written by