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Vox Media Podcast Network expands partnership with Stitcher

Rolling off their collaboration on Today, Explained, the two companies are teaming up again to produce a new flagship show for Vox Media's Recode brand.

Axios’ Sara Fischer with the exclusive jam shortly after the newsletter went out on Tuesday morning. Because Axios tends to already keep things short and pithy, here’s the most important brand new stuff:

  • Rolling off their collaboration on Today, Explained, the two companies are teaming up again to produce a new flagship show for Vox Media’s Recode brand. Much of the details remain TBD, but the production is slated to publish three times a week starting this summer. Axios describes the partnership as a “multi-million dollar deal” — which sounds big and dramatic, but isn’t as uncommon as you would think.
  • The production is currently searching for a host. I hear that the job listing will go up sometime this week.
  • Stitcher’s Midroll arm will be responsible for ad sales, and revenue will be split between the two sides. A reminder: the Today, Explained arrangement involved Midroll additionally providing upfront investment to help assemble the team and build out the production.
  • The Axios piece also provided some good detail on the Vox Media Podcast Network’s business: Vox Media president Marty Moe notes that the network is now an “eight figure business,” and that it was 75 shows-large in 2018.

A few thoughts:

  • My understanding is that Today, Explained has been a fairly successful production, and so it’s good to see the two companies working together again on an effective playbook. More broadly, though, the thing I’m thinking about is how Stitcher may shift or deepen its position in the marketplace — for both publishing partners and advertisers — after all the Spotify brouhaha, and whatever market environment that might portend. Personally, I’d keep an eye out for whether Stitcher will strike similar deals with other publications.
  • Here’s the interesting thing about the Recode show to me: the larger context around that Vox brand is one of general shrinking, as far as the property’s website presence is concerned. Last November, Vox Media decided to fold Recode into its main property — for relaunch this year — after declining web performance. Citing Comscore numbers, WSJ’s Ben Mullin reported at the time that “the site attracted 1.36 million unique visitors in September 2018, a 50% decrease from its audience of 2.77 million unique visitors during the same period the year before.” (See the Nieman Lab write-up on the matter.) But the thing about media businesses is that it’s never just defined by a single medium — Hot Pod isn’t just a newsletter, by the way — and Recode has enjoyed considerable life in other iterations, from its lucrative live events to its newsletters to, yes, its podcasts, a la Recode Decode, Recode Media, and the recently launched Pivot. What’s probably happening here is a situation where they saw their podcast footprint as significant enough to double down on, and to position that podcast as the “home page” for the publication and its reporting. It’s a very 2019 situation, I think.