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Endeavor Audio lays off in-house sales team amidst restructure

I’m able to confirm that Endeavor Audio, the podcast division launched by the entertainment conglomerate Endeavor in the fall of 2018, has laid off its in-house advertising sales team, and is pulling out of the podcast advertising sales business more broadly. At least one client has already been informed, and the sales team was informed late last week.

According to a person familiar with the matter, the move comes amidst a restructure that sees Endeavor Audio shifting its operations from being a standalone end-to-end podcast publishing entity — covering development, financing, production, distribution, marketing, and monetization — into something that’s more formally integrated with Endeavor Content, the division established by Endeavor in 2017 to focus on developing, packaging, and distributing projects, primarily for film and television. (For deeper context on Endeavor Content, I recommend this Variety article from Oct 2018 and this LA Times write-up from August 2019.) Under this new arrangement, Endeavor Audio will mostly focus on performing the functions of a creative broker, where it will pursue podcast projects to invest in, develop, and bring out to market for potential podcast buyers.

This shift represents a pivot — or a refocus, if you have distaste for the word “pivot” — for Endeavor Audio, which was first introduced to the world with considerable fanfare in September 2018, complete with a New York Times write-up. The division launched with several notable partnerships, including ones with the famed TV producer Dick Wolf, Mass Appeal, and Parcast (which would later be acquired by Spotify). It would later strike partnerships with, among others, the WWE and Qcode. (The partnership with QCode was only around one project: Blackout, with Rami Malek.)

Despite the divestment from ad sales and shift in focus, Endeavor Audio will continue publishing podcasts that have come out of their existing partnerships, suggesting that, at least for now, the division will be adhering to some kind of hybrid business model. For those still-active podcasts, a third-party will be brought in to handle ad sales.

Meanwhile, as part of its transition towards creative brokerage, the division will be bolstered its presence on the West Coast. I’m told that they have hired someone to start its Los Angeles office. That person will begin work in February.