ViacomCBS, which once owned more than a hundred radio stations until selling its portfolio in 2017, remains in the audio business. While it has continued to produce content including top-of-the-hour CBS News updates for radio, podcasting has been where ViacomCBS has in recent months been focusing its audio attention. At Thursday’s IAB Podcast Upfront, the company announced plans to release more than 20 new podcasts this year tied to its roster of brands including MTV, Comedy Central and BET.
ViacomCBS also introduced a new and expanded partnership with iHeartMedia, where Nickelodeon will exclusively create podcasts from two of the brand's most cherished franchises –Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra and SpongeBob SquarePants.
The podcast investment comes as ViacomCBS sees growth in the reach of its content. Since first unveiling the company’s unified podcast slate at the IAB’s Podcast Upfront last September, it has seen a nearly 14% increase in downloads year-over-year and is on track to produce over 120 shows, including the addition of the more than 20 new podcasts by year-end.
“ViacomCBS is thrilled to return to the Podcast Upfront following a year of remarkable momentum and growth in the digital audio space,” said Steve Raizes, Senior Vice President of ViacomCBS Podcasts. “Honoring the quality and value of the company’s world-renowned content, this enhanced podcast slate will offer an organic pipeline for advertising partners to reach diverse audiences in a premium environment at scale.” The company said its podcasts will span genres, covering comedy, news, true crime, sports, kids, entertainment, and music, mirroring its lineup of television networks.
Podcast titles from the upcoming slate include:
- CBS Eye on Money with Jill Schlesinger. The series tackles sometimes uncomfortable and even controversial money and investing issues without the financial jargon to get to the heart of what’s important for anyone to know. Schlesinger takes listener phone calls and interviews informative and entertaining guests each week to uncover surprising insights and provide actionable information so listeners can make the most of their money from CBS News.
- She Makes the Rules. Described as a podcast about rule-makers, record-setters, and rebel women who’d rather boss up than back down. “They do not back down, they’re never intimidated, they’re never afraid to speak truth to power. When something isn’t right, they take a stand,” the Viacom/CBS said in press materials.
- Risking it All. In this weekly show hosted by Dr. Sandra Magnus, a former NASA astronaut, and retired Navy Admiral James “Sandy” Winnefeld speak with people whose daily lives are full of high-stakes risks. It will feature conversations with professional risk-takers, including a deep-sea diver, a heart surgeon, an NFL quarterback, a secret agent, and more.
MTV Entertainment Group
- Behind the Music. The legendary MTV series is expanding to audio with a companion podcast to the Paramount+ series, featuring career-spanning stories told by artists.
- Beyond the Scenes from The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. The Daily Show with Trevor Noah correspondent Roy Wood Jr. gives listeners an inside look into how producers and writers of the Comedy Central series use comedy to tackle a variety of complex topics – from racial injustice to sex robots – and where these issues stand today. Beyond the Scenes features a rotating cast of The Daily Show correspondents including Ronny Chieng, Jordan Klepper, Michael Kosta, Desi Lydic, and Dulcé Sloan.
- Wild ‘N Out. The VH1-produced program will continue to combine hip hop and improv comedy.
- Yellowstone. The most watched cable show of 2020 debuts a companion podcast to the Paramount Network series. The podcast gives fans exclusive cast interviews and behind-the-scenes glimpses into the gritty, modern-West community and culture behind the megahit Yellowstone.
- Avatar: Braving the Elements. The official companion podcast from Nickelodeon has hosts Janet Varney (the voice of Korra) and Dante Basco (the voice of Prince Zuko) re-watch every weekly episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender and break down key themes, notable battles, and behind-the-scenes trivia. Special guests from cast members to producers join them to explore elements of the Avatarverse, including the origins of the story and how Avatar was brought to life. The 40-episode season debuts June 22.
- SpongeBob BingePants. Hosted by super-fans Frankie Grande (Henry Danger) and Hector Navarro (Geek & Sundry), the official SpongeBob SquarePants re-watch podcast dives down to Bikini Bottom for a recap of every episode, conversations, and never-before-heard secrets about the optimistic sea sponge. The 40-episode series debuts later this year.
ViacomCBS also announced BET’s podcasting initiatives, emphasizing the massive demand for content from leading Black creators and reflecting the tremendous relevance, influence, and popularity of Black culture across the general entertainment ecosystem. BET will develop podcasts that will serve as a natural extension of the brand’s concerted investment in digital content.
Other show updates include the recent launch of Fantasy Baseball Today in 5 and a new sports-centric podcast from “Showtime Basketball” is coming soon.