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Stitcher and Wondery’s Excellent (UK) Adventure

Stitcher and Wondery have formed a joint venture to go after UK podcast advertising dollars.

Stitcher and Wondery have formed a joint venture to go after UK podcast advertising dollars. The venture is called Podfront UK — fitting, given that its purpose feels like a general extension of the podcast upfronts that the two companies have been collaborating on over the past year and change — and it will be led by Ruth Fitzsimmons, previously the SVP of International Operations and Content Partnerships at Audioboom. Her official title is Managing Director of Podfront UK.

Digiday has the official write-up on the matter. Lots to process here, but for now, immediate things to note:

  • At this point in time, the point of the venture is to begin building an official market for Stitcher and Wondery’s UK listens — to matching their UK listeners with UK advertisers, and to offer that inventory for advertisers and brands in the UK. I mean, that’s obvious, but it’s still worth saying out loud.
  • According to the Digiday piece, they will be using the IAB’s standard for podcast measurement to ground the transactions.
  • The piece also notes that Podfront UK is preparing to hire eight people in London to rep the shows. There is a broad hope in place to create local content at some point in the future.

Two context points:

  • Last August, I wrote about the way a few US podcast companies, including Stitcher (then still Midroll Media), were thinking about their relationship with international listens. This development is a direct continuation of the discussions embedded within.
  • Worth noting that this isn’t the first time American podcast companies tried setting up shop in the UK. Most notably, Panoply set up a shop back in 2016 when they still slingin’ content. In my mind, though, there are two major points of difference: first, technology and the ad market is now much further along, and second, Podfront UK seems to be a substantially more focused effort to systematically chase after those UK advertising dollars. There’s a difference between content leading the way, and ad sales leading the way.

I’m prepping a long interview with Stitcher CEO Erik Diehn on Podfront UK, the international advertising scene, and more for next Tuesday’s issue. In the meantime, just want to flag: this is a pretty big deal. And I wonder: how do Audioboom and Acast feel about this? Write me, fellas.