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Jeff Umbro: Rogan, Overcast, Apple Watch, and podcasts are always…

This guest column is by Jeff Umbro, CEO of The Podglomerate, and was first published in his weekly newsletter for LinkedIn called Podcast Perspective. The Podglomerate produces, distributes, and monetizes podcasts. You can learn more and connect at www.thepodglomerate.com.


I took last week off, but in a weird twist I actually had finished most of the newsletter before deciding not to publish it, so you’re going to be treated to the big stories of the last two weeks.

Podcasting News & Views:

Does Joe Rogan Have a Spotify Problem?

The Hundred Million Dollar Man has a problem.

In the much anticipated world of Spotify’s podcast exclusives, The Joe Rogan Experience rolled out on the app last week. It seems like the whole world knows this story by now, but for the uninitiated, Spotify offered Joe Rogan a reported $100M contract to license his podcast exclusively on their platform. Under the terms of this deal, Rogan would continue to own all rights to the show, and beginning in September it would be available on Spotify for the first time, and removed from all other podcast platforms before the end of 2020. The show will also be removed from YouTube, save the Joe Rogan clip channel (which is often more popular than the main show btw), and Spotify will introduce a new video component for the show (and others).

When the podcast appeared on the app last week, it did so missing several high profile episodes from controversial guests like Alex Jones, Stefan Molyneux, Milo Yiannopoulos, Gavin McInnes, and Chris D’Elia. All in there seem to be about a dozen missing episodes, including some that were very specifically controversial due to topics discussed in an episode as opposed to the guest being labeled as fringe. For example there are several Joey Diaz episodes available in the feed, but an early episode where Diaz joked about using his status for sexual favors has been removed.

It’s unclear whether these episodes were removed based on decisions from Spotify or Joe Rogan, and neither party has commented (nor does it sound like they will). Spotify has de-platformed certain content creators in the past, so it’s not a stretch to envision how this conversation likely went. It very clearly comes back to an age old conversation about censorship – do these particular episodes pass the sniff test of shouting fire into a crowded theater? Someone seems to think not.

At the end of the day, one of three things happened here:

  1. Someone made a mistake with the migration (which is extremely unlikely given the scope of this deal).
  2. Spotify, the corporation who paid $100M for the right to offer the show exclusively, decided they don’t want to promote select voices on their platform. This is not censorship, btw.
  3. Joe Rogan decided he didn’t want to promote these voices on his platform.

Maybe I’m being shortsighted, but I’m glad these particular episodes aren’t listed.

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Overcast Plays their O’Brien Card

Sorry for the awful 1984 reference.

Popular podcasting app Overcast just put out a new beta version of their app letting listeners know which podcasts are tracking them. Ashley Carmen at The Verge has the story.

Many people in podcasting have long sought transparency in the space, looking for more data and analytic tracking behind their ad campaigns. This will ultimately lead to more advertising dollars and sophistication in the industry, but the trade off is less privacy. Overcast creator Marco Arment has long been an advocate for keeping podcasting opaque.

This divide is pretty big in a lot of podcasting circles. When I ran an interview with Podsights Head of Partnerships Sarah Cotenoff about podcast attribution data, I received several emails from readers upset that I didn’t bring up privacy concerns.

That’s why in the latest update of his Overcast app, Arment is flipping the script and providing transparency to the listener. In the beta version of the new app, you can see when podcasts are serving ads via DAI, or dynamic audio insertion, or when they’re tracking listener data with cookies prefixed to the show’s RSS feeds, as is possible with services like Podsights and Chartable.

I worry that without proper context a lot of casual listeners won’t understand the information being presented, but ultimately this is an important decision from Overcast.

Wonder Media Network CMO Shira Atkins Talks Pods

The great Shira Atkins, CMO of Wonder Media Network, appeared on the Digiday Podcast this week to discuss the podcast landscape, branded podcasts, and the company she cofounded. If you’re even peripherally interested in the podcast space, give this episode a listen. There are tons of great nuggets.

The IAB Issued Guidance to Podcast Hosts About the Apple Watch

Podcast hosting services have the ability to provide podcast producers with data that tells them what apps listeners are using. If you have a show with 100,000 downloads, you can see, for example, that 50,000 downloads occurred on Spotify, 20,000 on Overcast, and so on. Historically these hosting companies have separated listening on Apple Podcasts between mobile, desktop, and watch apps.

Last week the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB), the body behind setting compliance standards for download metrics (which inform advertising spend), issued a statement saying that most hosting providers have inadvertently been counting duplicate downloads due to the way the Apple Watch operates.

On the one hand, this is a great catch. On the other, this may have some pretty sever implications for the bigger providers, where the Apple Watch makes up 2% or more of total listening. It’s nothing a publisher can’t recover from, but it can also account for a bit more than a rounding error.

Wildcast Launches New Platform for Podcast Networking and Productivity

A new platform called Wildcast launched last week with the goal of connecting podcast hosts and producers for cross promo and ad services. Though not the first platform in the space (PodMatch, Podcast.co, Interview Valet), it seems to be one of the better equipped. Wildcast was co-founded by an entrepreneurs Scott Pomerantz and Madison Catania, head of production at Podcast Nation, a Vancouver based podcast company.

Timberrrrrrrrrr.fm

I have no real reason to write about Timber.fm again other than to note how much I’m enjoying the pieces they’re putting out. I’m a sucker for a profile, and just in the past week they’ve covered This American Life producer Lina Misitzis and Team Coco producer Matt Gourley. Read them all here.

Apple Books Meets Apple Podcasts Meets Apple Maps

Oprah’s Book Club is a new podcast by Oprah Winfrey in partnership with Apple Podcasts and Apple Books, which is an extension of a partnership Oprah has with Apple TV, which will include curated articles for Apple News, and which is an extension of Oprah’s famously star-making Oprah’s Book Club segment on her TV Show. Sorry, I know that’s a mouthful.

It seems like the podcast will focus on mini-seasons, each season covering a book and including a guided discussion with the author.

I’m interested in this story because of books, but also because of how this show seems to be made in partnership with Apple Books. Coincidentally we’re also seeing a collaboration between a podcast produced by MacMillan Audio – The Green Book – and another Apple service, Apple Maps. Pair this with last month’s launch of the Apple News Today podcast and I think we’re seeing a full fledged admission of a new strategy a lot of folks have only hinted at previously. Apple produced podcasts hitting the market in order to try and push Apple services.

Chartapalooza

For anyone interested in the mechanisms of podcast charts, Amplifi media CEO Steve Goldstein has a doozy. He did the heavy lifting for us and run a big deep dive into the calculation processes behind each of these charts and what they mean for us as listeners. It’s a lot of fascinating data and I encourage you to give it a look, which you can do here.

The Black Effect Podcast Network

Charlamagne Tha God and iHeartMedia have jointly launched the Black Effect Podcast Network. Charlamagne has hosted The Breakfast Club podcast with iHeart for years, so the network is a natural extension of that relationship. “The vision for The Black Effect is to amplify, elevate, and empower emerging and established talent,” Charlamagne said. “Our goal is to shift the narrative from Black creators signing transactional deals, to instead forming legacy partnerships that build generational wealth while allowing each creative to have an equitable stake in their future. As a long-time partner of iHeart, it’s an honor to make history with them.” You can see a list of shows involved here.

More Sauce

Stitcher has also released a new podcast network, More Sauce, meant to champion Black voices. The new network will debut with two new Fall launches, The Salon, hosted by actress Lala Milan, and Porsha4Real, hosted by media personality Porsha Williams. The network is headed up by T. Square, Stitcher’s Executive Producer for Original Programming. “More Sauce aims to create memorable content through the lens of Black experiences to help listeners have a community they can go to,” Square said. “To take a break from daily routines and the harsh realities society is facing today.”

Podcasts Are Always the Next Big Thing

Earlier this week, Becca James published a piece on Vulture called Podcasts Are Always the Next Big Thing basically highlighting 20+ previous articles about the podcasting industry. Other than great journalism, it’s a really fascinating time capsule. Give it a read.

Thanks for reading—see you next week.

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Jeff Umbro

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