Lockdowns triggered a major shift towards podcasting. An estimated 15 billion hours were spent listening to podcasts in 2021 versus 12 billion in 2019. By 2024, industry analysts expect there will be 100 million podcast listeners in the United States, and that means companies involved in this sector should thrive.
We like to think of podcasts as independent creators making waves, but the reality is the most-listened to podcasts are often corporate owned.
NPR aside (which has a solid presence in the 10 most listened to podcasts last holiday season), investors can benefit from this podcasting boom.
Several companies made big moves toward podcasting this year, including Apple (AAPL) (which invented podcasts on its iPod) and Samsung, but these are seven other publicly traded podcasting companies to check out.
That’s no surprise given its deep roots in terrestrial radio – the company was initially Clear Channel Communications, which dominated local radio before the internet and smartphones.
The iHeartPodcast Network includes shows from stars like Will Ferrell, Charlamagne, Chelsea Handler, Questlove, and Shonda Rhimes. These stars pull big audiences and keeps the company at the top of the podcasting market.
It also has revenue streams in TV, news and music, and even vertical real estate. It houses wireless and broadcast towers, making it a vertically integrated podcast company.
The podcasting network was originally developed in Los Angeles in January 2016 with backing from 20th Century Fox and Amazon Music.
Wondery’s programming includes shows produced in partnership with Bravo, Al Jazeera, and more, including Dirty John, Even the Rich, Dr. Death, and Business Wars. This award-winning lineup makes the company a bingeworthy podcast platform.
And integration into Amazon’s ecosystem means these podcasts are easily found on its smart home devices, like Alexa-enabled smart speakers.
Spotify Technology SA (NYSE:SPOT) spent over $1 billion on podcasts over the past two years, including The Joe Rogan Experience, Call Her Daddy, and the entirety of popular podcast publisher Gimlet Media.
That’s because the company is undergoing a Netflix-like transition to creating in-house content and stop its reliance on music industry licensing fees.
Spotify bought Betty Labs in 2021 and converted it to Spotify Greenroom, on which it already hosts its popular Ringer network podcasts. Its partnership with the WWE adds even more content to the platform, which is part of its full suite of podcasting tools.
Anyone who wants to start a podcast can do so using tools like Anchor.FM, Spotify for Podcasters, Spotify for Artists, and more. Once shows are proven to build audiences, the company acquires them for pennies on the dollar versus what it would spend on commercial music licensing.
4. New York Times
New York Times Co (NYSE:NYT) is more than a newspaper – the mass media company survives by providing multimedia content for a variety of platforms. And with 14 active shows, it has the smallest number in the list of top 10 biggest podcast publishers.
The NY Times podcasts include content from its award-winning journalism team and brings the pages of the news to life. Shows includes PopCast, The Daily, and Modern Love, and they’re popular among both New Yorkers and outsiders looking to keep up with the Big Apple.
The company has the distinction of being one of the oldest newspapers in the country, alongside the New York Post and Hartford Courant. This makes it the perfect investment for those who want to contribute to something good with their money.
Walt Disney Co (NYSE:DIS) is a media giant, and podcasts are a big part of that. Besides its Disney-branded shows, it also does well with ESPN sports podcasts. This extends the brand into just another medium, as you would be hard pressed to find anything the House of Mouse isn’t already involved in.
But it’s the sports that really drive the listens – sports fans are rabid, and ESPN offers a suite of podcasts catered directly to them at every part of any league’s season, post-season, or off-season.
This keeps enough advertising revenue coming in that investors barely batted an eye at the closure of its theme parks and cruises.
6. Graham Holdings
Graham Holdings Co (NYSE:GHC) owns a variety of brands, including a digital marketing company, Code3 (formerly SocialCode) and Slate, which is one of the biggest podcast producers on the planet.
Slate podcasts run the gamut of news verticals just like the New York Times, and it is beloved by technology, political, and other news junkies.
Whether you love politics, business, culture, or just general human interest, Slate has a podcast for you. And don’t let the journalism fool you – they’re still happy to endorse products, knowing that advertising revenue is an important stream to keep the news going.
In fact, Code3 is the company’s marketing and advertising subsidiary that works with brands like Chipotle, Bud Light, and the Miami Heat.
Sirius XM Holdings Inc (NASDAQ:SIRI) is a satellite radio company with a lot of podcasts based on its original content.
And it also owns podcasting companies Earwolf and Stitcher, making it a venerable force in podcasts that reach far beyond the satellite spectrum it owns.
Big names like Disney’s Marvel and ESPN podcasts are found here, and the company spent the past year broadening its podcast selection. This is a major move that’s likely to provide a lot of competition for the services above.
The author has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Financhill has a disclosure policy. This post may contain affiliate links or links from our sponsors.