Spotify’s market cap is $48.4bn at the time of writing, having grown by $6.5bn since we last checked in on 19 June – and then it had already grown by nearly $12bn in the previous month. As we explained then, it’s the company’s push into podcasts that is fuelling this startling growth in Spotify’s value.
It was back in February 2019 that the streaming service declared its plans to become an ‘audio-first’ company and park its tanks firmly on radio’s lawn. It’s fair to say that the radio world has woken up to the threat.
The latest evidence: reports that US satellite-radio company SiriusXM (which also owns music streaming service Pandora) is in ‘advanced talks’ to buy podcasting firm Stitcher. That’s the company that owns the podcast-listening app of the same name, as well as its own production network and advertising division.
(Historical quirk: Stitcher was actually acquired by Deezer back in 2014, well before Spotify’s podcasts push. But less than two years later Deezer sold it again, to US media group E.W. Scripps. Deezer executives may want to avoid the headlines for a few days on this: the company reportedly sold Stitcher for $4.5m in 2016, but the Wall Street Journal claims that SiriusXM is buying it for $300m now…)
The Hollywood Reporter claimed that the SiriusXM deal could be announced later this week. It would be the latest move into podcasts for the satellite radio company. In March 2019 it created an ‘original content’ team working across SiriusXM and Pandora, then began turning some of the former’s radio talk-shows into podcasts for the latter.
By July 2019, Pandora had a catalogue of around 3k podcasts, with the intention of expanding it to 5k-10k by the end of the year. Even before it was acquired by SiriusXM, Pandora had been working on its ‘Podcast Genome Project’ to provide better personalised recommendations of podcasts to its listeners.
The financial markets love Spotify’s strategy of moving beyond music, and the suggestion that the radio industry’s listeners and revenues are ripe for the taking. But SiriusXM’s moves show that the radio industry isn’t just lying down and accepting its fate. In the US, at least, there’s a fascinating battle in store.