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Industry Ranker Chicanery

Plus: Another Round is striking out on its own.

Industry ranker chicanery. So you should watch this development super closely: the Australian radio analyst James Cridland published a report on Tuesday that strongly questioned the accuracy of Podtrac’s Industry ranker. His analysis hinges on iHeartRadio’s representation on the charts, ultimately finding that a good deal of the publisher’s numbers were driven by automatic site pre-loads. Podtrac has since taken iHeartRadio off the charts. You can find Cridland’s write-up here.

I’m keeping an eye on the situation, and have reached out to both parties to get more official statements on the matter. More, I imagine, on Tuesday.

This is some sticky shit, folks.

Follow-up on the Another Round news. So, one of the big questions that the “BuzzFeed releasing Another Round” story kicked up in my inbox this week is this notion of podcast operations being among the first things to get the boot should a parent digital media company encounter choppy waters. It’s a fair concern, and one that’s even more prominent given the relative abundance of non-audio native media companies building out podcast initiatives to capitalize on the medium’s growing interest — and in doing so developing what might begin to feel like a fragile bed of work opportunities. Podcasting among the bulk of digital media companies, the thinking seems to go, is a fad.

My personal read on the matter is a little mixed: I think the notion is generally true — and has always been true since this particular boom started — but I also think that it was never apparent to me that BuzzFeed put that much strategic weight into audio compared to, say, Vox Media or the New York Times, which have dedicated quite a bit more resources into integrating podcasts into its advertising inventory mix and forging partnerships that indicate a strong consideration of the space’s opportunity. As much as Another Round has achieved across its utterly noteworthy existence, the show had done so on its own accord with what seems like comparatively little consideration or integration by its parent company.

That Another Round is striking out on its own — and now fully belongs to its core talent, Tracy Clayton and Heben Nigatu — is a fantastic thing, and I’m eager to see what happens next to the show as a platform for something much bigger. The more appropriate narrative to situate this story is the notion of independent ownership, or more specifically black media ownership. It is also the story of getting starts and foundations wherever and however you can; one can debate the extent to which Another Round’s early growth can be attributed to BuzzFeed’s brand, but I certainly do think BuzzFeed’s infrastructure — of serving as a core income bed for the duo as they did other stuff for the company, of generally being a big presence — was foundational to the show’s momentum.

But that’s the past, and this is now. And I can’t wait to see what happens.