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Insider October 14, 2022 — What exactly is Spotify’s stance on abortion ads?

Plus, Patreon’s valuation takes a hit

Normally I am happy to be in Brooklyn instead of the burbs, but this is the one time of year I really miss my hometown on the Hudson River. Glorious foliage! Apple-flavored everything! Shockingly competitive Halloween window painting! I’m heading up there tomorrow for a shot of pure fall energy into the veins.

Anyway, podcast news: Patreon sees its valuation tumble, Spotify dodges specifics on its abortion ad policy, and the Obama boys welcome back their boss.

People are more likely to co-listen to podcasts in the car than at home

That certainly tracks for me! A new study from SiriusXM, Carat, and Edison Research looks at whether and how people listen to podcasts with others. The report found that 16 percent of co-listening happens in the car, compared to 13 percent at home, 13 percent at the gym, and 8 percent at work.

The vast majority of co-listening happens with family members — more than 90 percent. The rest happens with friends, acquaintances, and… “someone else.” I would really like to know how a full 1 percent of respondents found themselves in a situation hanging out with a complete stranger just listening to Normal Gossip or whatever.

Also worth noting — finding the right car podcast is hard! It has to be something everyone likes and not so soothing you get sleepy at the wheel. Luckily, both my husband and I are nerds, so we spent an entire road trip to and from Vermont listening to the Revolutions season on the Haitian Revolution. It honestly slapped, but I can also see how that is maybe not for everyone.

Spotify rejects, then backtracks, on abortion pill ad

Platformer writer and contributing editor to The Verge Casey Newton looked into a dispute between the streamer and Mayday Health, a nonprofit focused on providing information on accessing abortion pills. The group is known for putting up billboards in states that ban abortion following the overturning of Roe v. Wade and attempted to place ad spots on Spotify as well before being rejected.

Spotify told the organization that the ad would only work if it were linked to health information that was broader and not focused on abortion. “As of right now, this is currently prohibited within our policies: Abortion products and service, abortion providers, and pregnancy counseling, does not include standard OB/GYN providers,” the company wrote in an email to Mayday. “We unfortunately can’t accept this campaign at the moment but we’ll let you know if that changes!”

Newton points out that Spotify does not have any public policies explicitly banning ads addressing abortion. When reached for additional clarity, Spotify sent Hot Pod the same statement it sent Newton regarding the policy, noting that ads promoting health services are only accepted on a limited basis. “That said, we regularly assess our ad policies based on the evolving media ecosystem and legal requirements,” the statement said. “In this case, our ad reviewer made an error and mischaracterized our policies to Mayday Health.”

After Mayday made some noise on Twitter, the ad was accepted. But without the public mess, would it have been? Newton raises the idea that the Spotify representative who originally rejected the ad may not have done so by mistake. “If that policy exists, and was indeed in place, it suggests that what happened was not an error so much as a quiet change to a policy that was never officially released,” he wrote.

Podcasting is a bigger platform for talk shows than radio

That may seem obvious at this point, but it wasn’t always so. According to a preview from Edison and NPR’s Spoken Word Audio Report out later this month, 41 percent of time spent listening to talk shows happened on podcasts, compared to 39 percent on AM / FM radio. Edison says this is the first time since the study launched in 2014 that this has been the case.

Eight years ago, radio personalities trounced podcasters. Nearly three-quarters of listening to talk shows happened on the airwaves, while only 12 percent happened through podcasting. That breakdown still basically holds for listeners over the age of 55, two-thirds of whom get their talk content from radio (only 21 percent listen to talk shows in podcast form). But for the 13-34 demo, radio barely registers — only 13 percent listen to radio talk shows, compared to 60 percent who listen to podcast talk shows.

Patreon’s valuation plummets 70 percent

Companies connected to the creator economy are faring poorly in the new economic environment, and Patreon is not immune. According to a leaked memo obtained by Business Insider, Patreon’s valuation has fallen 70 percent since its April 2021 high of $4.5 billion. The news comes about a month after the company laid off 17 percent of its staff and closed its offices in Berlin and Dublin.

Patreon facilitates subscriptions for all kinds of creators, but its biggest earners are podcasters. Shows like Maintenance Phase, True Crime Obsessed, and Chapo Trap House earn money from tens of thousands of subscribers through the platform (from which Patreon takes a cut between 5 percent and 12 percent). The memo blames the company’s problems on macroeconomic forces, which seems fair. I would also be curious about how Patreon’s podcasting business has been affected by Apple and Spotify’s push into subscriptions. It seems like Patreon’s big shows haven’t gone anywhere, but the market has gotten much more competitive of late.

President Obama is stopping by Pod Save America tonight

Tonight at 7PM ET, former President Barack Obama will hang out with his former staffers on Pod Save America. The special episode is part of Crooked Media’s takeover of SiriusXM’s Progress Channel in the weekends leading up to the midterm elections. The episode will be available to download as a podcast tomorrow.

Have a good weekend!