Issue 283,  published November 17, 2020

iHeartMedia strikes creative partnership with Cloud10

iHeartMedia strikes multiyear creative partnership with Cloud10, the Los Angeles-based podcast network and production studio founded by Sim Sarna. Cloud10 is known for building out a portfolio of distinctly celebrity-driven shows like Work in Progress with Sophia Bush, Minor Adventures with Topher Grace, and Busy Phillips is Doing Her Best, and the studio itself comes out of Sarna’s success in being part of creating the popular Anna Faris is Unqualified podcast.

There can be a bit of variation when it comes to deals like this, so I thought it might be useful to unpack it a little further. This deal, which spans two years, primarily revolves around iHeartMedia funding and distributing new shows from Cloud10, often with minimum guarantees. (Not unlike how book contracts are structured, revenues would go to iHeartMedia until it recoups the guarantee and production budget before switching to an agreed upon rev split.) Cloud10 will maintain its existing sales team that handles direct response advertising, but this partnership will also see iHeartMedia supporting the network’s sales efforts around brand and programmatic marketplace-based advertising.

As part of the deal, existing Cloud10 shows will become part of the iHeartMedia portfolio, and can be subject to measurement by Podtrac. Those shows will also be privy to being promoted on iHeartMedia’s unsold inventory.

The two companies will also be closely collaborating on that future program development process, and while specific details on upcoming projects will only be announced early next year, I’m told that the deal will likely result in ten or more new shows through the end of 2021.

This Cloud10 partnership is the latest addition to iHeartMedia’s recent flurry of dealmaking activities in the podcast space. Last week, the broadcast radio incumbent announced a sales and production partnership with Pushkin Industries, a deal that comes not long after news that it’s launching a new podcast network with Charlamagne Tha God, called Black Effect. In late October, the corporation made official its intent to acquire the Voxnest platform, thought to be part of its push into programmatic podcast advertising.

These podcast activities also come as iHeartMedia continues its waves of layoffs chiefly targeting its broadcast radio markets, and as the FCC approves the company’s petition to increase its foreign ownership cap such that it’s able to take on more non-American capital as part of its efforts to navigate its state of post-bankruptcy. 

I run this thing.