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iHeartMedia Acquiring Stuff Media and Creating a Podcast Empire
Two powerhouses of podcasting are joining together, with iHeartMedia snapping up one of the top audio download producers.

In a sign of how popular podcasting has become, audio company iHeartMedia announced today that it's acquiring podcast provider Stuff Media. While the two companies aren't disclosing any numbers, the Wall Street Journal puts the deal at $55 million.

iHeartMedia was already active in the podcasting space, as it partners with major podcast providers such as NPR, WNYC, ESPN, and Gimlet, to distribute over 20,000 podcasts through its iHeartRadio Podcast Network. It also creates over 750 original shows.

iHeartMedia uses the reach of its radio network to market podcasts to listeners. Called the "Podcast, Meet Broadcast" initiative, it helps creators expose their work to a far larger audience. iHeartMedia and Stuff Media announced this type of partnership last week at the Podcast Upfront in New York City, when Conal Byrne, president and CEO of Stuff Media, said new series "Monster: The Zodiac Killer" will premiere exclusively on the iHeartRadio broadcast network in January 2019, and then be distributed through the iHeartRadio Podcast Network. Byrne will now iHeartMedia as the head of the podcast division.

"The HSW deal gives iHeartRadio an already-built and proven team for producing hit podcasts at scale," says Darren Davis, president of iHeartMedia Networks and iHeartRadio. "They’re experts at creating valuable branded audio content. They’ve been pioneers in the podcast space and their team is second to none."

While the podcast market feels saturated already, iHeartRadio notes that listening for its own podcasts is up 73 percent year-over-year from 2017 to 2018. With those kind of numbers, acquiring Stuff Media—creator of "Stuff You Should Know," the first podcast to reach 500 million downloads on iTunes—makes sense.

"Everyone is trying to do something in the podcast space, but as the number one audio company, we are seriously doubling down on our podcasting commitment," Davis adds. "It’s a vital extension of our audio relationship with our massive audience. iHeart reaches 272 million listeners a month on broadcast radio, and we will use that megaphone to bring podcasting to the masses. Rapidly."

Stuff Media podcasts will keep their branding post acquisition, and the group will keep its Atlanta, Georgia, headquarters.

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