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Tracking: August 8, 2019

iHeartMedia's Multilingual Expansion, Google Podcast Episode Searches, etc.

Multilingual expansion.

iHeartMedia has announced that it will be launching translated versions of some of its podcasts by the first quarter of 2020. The first slate of shows to get this treatment will include Stuff You Should Know and Stuff You Missed in History Class, making this another way in which the company is building on its acquisition of HowStuffWorks in 2018. The new versions will be in “Spanish, Hindi, Portuguese, French, German and more”, which squarely covers several of the big non English language podcast markets, namely South America, India and continental Europe.

Big audio providers are increasingly looking at ways of capitalising on international podcast listens — we saw a different iteration of this just recently with the launch of Stitcher and Wondery’s new joint UK venture, PodFront — and as podcast awareness and listenership grows around the world, it’s a natural direction for businesses that have already made big inroads in the US. I think this is going to be one of the major trends of the next 12 months or so, as providers that have previously been very focused on north American and English-speaking audiences wake up to the fact that there are $$$ to be had elsewhere too.

Pushing out content in languages other than English is an obvious step towards a more global listenership (and business model), and we’ve already seen some notable moves in this area. Spotify has experimented with a bilingual Spanish-English production with its Chapo show, and of course there are lots of other multilingual podcasts from public radio and beyond. As long as the monetisation options keep pace with the content distribution, this could be a real growth area.

The fact that iHeartRadio is translating existing content as part of an international push rather than choosing to fund homegrown shows in other parts of the world is particularly interesting to me. I’m fascinated to see how US produced and US centric content fares when transplanted to other cultures.

Additional iHeartMedia news to note: They are also launching a new weekly strand called “Sunday Night Podcasts” this weekend, which will air popular podcasts on their broadcast stations across the US. The segment kicks off on 11 August with an episode of The Ron Burgundy Podcast, with other shows to follow in later weeks.

Pipeline. PodcastOne has launched a new hosting service called LaunchPad Digital Media, which comes with an additional purpose for them as a potential talent pipeline, it seems to me. Here’s how it works: a podcaster wishing to host with LaunchPad pays no upfront subscription charge, but agrees to having pre and mid roll ads inserted into their show (and receives no cut of any revenue from this). There’s also supposedly a promotional element, with podcasters promised discovery owing to the company’s existing catalogue of shows.

The bet here for PodcastOne, of course, is that even if the vast majority of LaunchPad users generate little in the way of revenue, there will be a handful of nascent big hits that can be elevated to the network proper and monetised more thoroughly. It’s a not dissimilar to the way that Acast have operated in the UK and other smaller markets — set up a free hosting service in exchange for running ads, and bank on the fact that among your many sign ups is the next My Dad Wrote A Porno.

However, where I would slightly raise my eyebrows is at the lack of any kind of split on said ads — the company retains all revenue. Any podcasters intrigued by the LaunchPad proposition would do well to interrogate the offering here closely. Plus, as with any automatic or programmatic insertion, there’s always the possibility that something you don’t want might end up in front of your show when you don’t have complete control of the insertion deck.Luminary check in. In this overview from the Daily Dot, there’s this interesting quote from a spokesperson about what success looks like for Luminary, post that fraught launch: “We’re thrilled with the interest we’ve seen since we launched a little more than two months ago, both in premium subscribers listening to our premium content as well as free app users.”One in, one out. Monocle is spinning a new daily current affairs podcast, The Monocle Minute, out of its daily email newsletter. The magazine’s existing daily show, The Monocle Daily, last put out an episode in late May.Google it. The search engine is beginning to surface individual podcast episodes in general results, in a breakout section similar to the current format for video. The Verge’s Ashley Carman has a more detailed breakdown here, but essentially if you search for a topic or individual, you should shortly now be offered podcast episodes relevant to your terms as well as webpages and videos.