What’s a good word for, like, an unveiling party? A debutante ball? Sure, why not.
Adding to an already chaotic week of podcast industry news, Endeavor, the gargantuan and tentacular entertainment conglomerate led by Ari Emanuel, announced yesterday that it was getting into the on-demand audio business. Pulling the classic move of introducing one’s prestigious venture through a New York Times write-up, the venture is called Endeavor Audio and among its opening gambits involve:
- Signing television production legend Dick Wolf (i.e. he who gave us Law & Order) to produce a number of fiction podcasts in the crime genre. His first project will be co-developed with Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz of production company Magical Elves, which I hear was behind the development of reality TV hits like Top Chef.
- Bringing on Parcast, the podcast network behind salacious and somewhat generic fare like Cults. The Times write-up makes a good observation on this: by bringing in the network, Endeavor Audio automatically has an engine that delivers “some nine million downloads a month.” I’m assuming that number refers to raw downloads, and not, say, unique downloads specific to the United States.
- Bringing in Limetown, the hit fiction podcast by Two-Up Productions, which will release its long-awaited second season in October 31.
- Striking a partnership with Mass Appeal, an urban culture-focused media and entertainment company, with which it will develop up to ten projects.
Put another way, the opening gambit can be interpreted as: (1) making a buzzy investment in a long tried-and-true podcast genre — crime, if not true crime — (2) acquiring an already-running cost-effective podcast network that serves as an engine to deliver a bed of downloads; (3) striking an affiliation with a critically acclaimed podcast that has strong adaptation clout; and (4) striking an alliance with a media company organized around contemporary pop culture. It’s a portfolio that seems well-balanced around risk, I think.
For what it’s worth, the existence of Endeavor Audio wasn’t a mystery to us here in Hot Pod Insider. It was first discussed in this January 2018 article by the Hollywood Reporter, and I dropped a hint on the initiative’s lead, Moses Soyoola, in this Insider from May. Soyoola leads Endeavor Audio as general manager, having been recruited from Panoply Media — which, by the way, announced earlier this week that it was getting out of the content business — at the start of the year. Interestingly enough, WME, the powerful talent agency in the Endeavor family, had signed on to represent Panoply Media around this time last year. A very interesting cluster of data points.
Anyway, I frequently get confused by the word salad: Endeavor, William Morris Endeavor (WME), Endeavor Audio, etc. etc. Just remember that WME and Endeavor Audio are companies independent of one another within the Endeavor conglomerational universe, and that their business remain separate. They are, in effect, sister companies, perhaps not unlike how Slate and Panoply relates to one another under the Slate Group universe.