Issue 192,  published January 22, 2019

Pinna Stands Alone

This morning, Graham Holdings announced that Pinna, the kids programming-focused paid listening service that was originally launched in 2017 under the Panoply umbrella, is being spun out into a standalone company. The new entity will be led by CEO Maggie McGuire, a veteran of children-focused media divisions. Previously, McGuire held executive positions at Scholastic, Viacom’s Nickelodeon, and Cablevision. The standalone Pinna will be backed by Graham Holdings.

Back when Pinna first rolled out, I considered the product to be “the first really interesting attempt to get people to pay for podcasts.” (Still do, given my arguments here.) But its fate was left uncertain in the wake of Panoply’s divestment from the content business last fall. I inquired about Pinna back when that went down, and was told by a press contact that “no changes with Pinna.” Well now there is, I suppose.

Some details: the platform will continue to take the form of a mobile app, and will be available for iOS and Android for $7.99 a month or $79.99 a year. (The price point is unchanged from the company’s previous incarnation.) Publishers supplying content to the platform include Gen Z Media (of The Unexplained Disappearance of Mars Patel fame), Scholastic (McGuire’s old haunt), Highlights, and American Public Media, among others. The company is also a member of the kidSAFE Seal Program, an independent, safety certification service designed specifically for child-friendly websites and mobile apps.

For what it’s worth, I like where this is going. A product like this is worth a focused shot on its own terms, and under new and experienced leadership, its business — and what it will say about the broader on-demand audio universe — might turn out to be quite interesting indeed.