Sirius XM / Pandora: “We’re very committed to the podcast space”

In yesterday’s Q2 earnings call, Sirius XM executives mentioned Pandora 48 times, always with pride, optimism, and ambition — and a bit of detail. When it comes to podcasting, both Pandora and its parent company are committed to growing their footprints in the space, with tactical differences.

“We are committed to driving the Pandora business with sustained profitability.” –James Meyer, CEO, Sirius XM

The main Sirius strategy in podcasting is to offer subscription Sirius programs as on-demand audio offerings in the Pandora app — one of the keystone synergy strategies that justify the acquisition. On the Pandora side, “acquisition” of podcasts is the main way forward. Important to note that “acquisition” in this context means bringing existing shows from many publishers onto the platform for distribution, not acquisition of publishers as with Spotify gobbling up Gimlet and Anchor.

Sirius’s Scott Greenstein, President and Chief Content Office, articulated the Pandora podcast acquisition strategy this way: “Pandora will acquire a lot of podcasts that are out there. So it’s a convenience factor for a lot of the listeners that they don’t have to go elsewhere to find it. So to-date Pandora has already picked up about 3,000 podcasts, and well on their way toward their goal of between 5,000 and 10,000 by the end of the year.”

Sirius XM will continue feeding its archived talk shows to Pandora also.

“This will separate us at one level from everyone else,” Greenstein said.

More generally, Sirius XM execs voiced a commitment to podcasting, in the context of established expertise in spoken-word content. “We’re very committed to the podcast space,” said James Meyer, CEO. “We feel like we built talk premium radio. And so I think — we think we have a really good understanding of what listeners want in terms of spoken word.”

“Right now it seems to be a race as you can just put the most stuff up, which personally I don’t believe is what’s going to win,” Meyer also noted, observing that discovery is a problem and gatekeeping is a strategy. “It’s almost like a flea market, in that it’s up there everywhere and no one can find it and no one can find it easily. And so we’re busily working on those two things that we think are kind of gatekeeper kinds of things that need to be done for this stuff to finally catch fire.”



Brad Hill