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Freakonomics Radio partners with Stitcher

A win for Midroll, a loss for WNYC

What use is operating your own publishing rig if you’re not going to flex it once in a while? Here’s the news:

Freakonomics Radio strikes up new partnership deal with Midroll Media’s Stitcher podcast network

The development was announced shortly after the main Hot Pod newsletter went out this morning. According to the official press release:

Podcast network and listening platform Stitcher has signed a deal with journalist and best-selling author Stephen J. Dubner to co-produce his long-running and popular “Freakonomics Radio” podcast and to bring the show to the Stitcher network this summer.

Stitcher also will work with Dubner to expand the “Freakonomics Radio” brand through existing and new content.

“Freakonomics Radio” will release new episodes with Stitcher starting in July. In addition to free weekly episodes available to listeners on all podcast-listening platforms, the show’s archives will be available exclusively on the Stitcher app and on Freakonomics.com.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Freakonomics Radio drives over 12 million downloads per month, according to numbers provided in the press release. As such, it’s a huge get for Midroll Media, and conversely, a huge loss for WNYC, which developed and launched the radio show in 2010. One imagines that the podcast brings in a ton of revenue — and functions as an attractive gem for advertisers — but one also further imagines that host Stephen J. Dubner’s contract does not come cheap.
  • Dubner has a previously established relationship with Midroll. His podcast spinoff, “Tell Me Something I Don’t Know,” originally developed with New York Times Audio, joined Midroll in early 2017.
  • Part of the messaging here involves the notion that, as part of this new partnership, Freakonomics Radio will “increase programming by roughly 50%.” That will be spread across Dubner’s consolidated podcast portfolio under the Stitcher banner, which includes Freakonomics original recipe, the aforementioned Tell Me Something I Don’t Know, a new regular series called “Self-Help Sundays,” and special run projects.
  • Despite the new partnership deal, WNYC will continue distributing the podcast to public radio stations.

Interestingly, the news came with a second press release, which had this quote from WNYC CEO Laura Walker: “WNYC Studios is very proud of our work with Stephen Dubner on the Freakonomics Radio podcast, which successfully translated a popular book and print column into a must-listen audio experience for listeners everywhere… We are pleased to continue to distribute the show to public radio stations across the country, and wish Stephen the best on his new podcast projects.”

One extra bit of noodling:

  • Let’s once again highlight the data point that Freakonomics Radio drives over 12 million downloads per month.
  • And then let’s look at the fact that the podcast currently places 5th on Podtrac’s Top 20 show ranker, below This American Life and Stuff You Should Know but above The Joe Rogan Experience, TED Radio Hour, and Fresh Air.

Interesting.