Reflecting the growth of the podcast industry, Libsyn reports its revenue more than doubled last year, topping $22 million—a 108% increase over the $10 million reported by the podcast hosting company in 2017. Libsyn credits not only a greater number of podcasts on its platform, but also more customers using its corporate-targeted LibsynPro service for helping to offset a decrease in advertising revenue.
It’s not just dollars that are growing. Libsyn ended 2018 with more than 57,000 podcast shows on its platform, an increase of 30% compared to one year earlier and a doubling of the shows compared to the end of 2015. That resulted in 4.9 million active episodes at the end of December, up one million from a year earlier.
The company says Libsyn4 hosting revenue increased 30% due to the growth in the number of podcasts on the network. The Libsyn4 is a podcast hosting and distribution service which costs $5 to $75 per month and includes storage, bandwidth, RSS creation, distribution, and statistics tracking. It also credits gains in LibsynPro revenue. That’s the service used by big podcast networks.
“Management believes that over the next 12 months growth in the podcasting industry and Libsyn’s market leadership will continue to fuel expansion of the Libsyn network and revenue. The company expects to see year-over-year cost of revenue continue to grow in 2019,” the company said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Despite gains in hosting revenue, Libsyn reports its advertising revenue dropped 22% last year, to $1.3 million. That compares to $1.7 million in 2017. As a result, advertising contributed 10% of 2018 revenue compared to 15% of 2017 revenue. The company didn’t provide much insight into the reason for the pullback amid a growing ad marketplace for podcasting. “The decrease resulted from decrease in the dollars being spent on ad campaigns during 2018 with existing advertisers,” it told investors in the filing. It also said that its ad-related expenses more than tripled last year.
The Pittsburgh-based company also offered some other details of how its business is progressing. For instance, about 70% of the shows Libsyn distributes are consumed by listeners using Apple’s iTunes platform. It has 89 employees—nine more than last year—of which 87 are full-time workers. It also has $8.4 million in outstanding loans, of which $2.7 million will come due in 2019.
Libsyn’s annual report to shareholders offers a rare glimpse into what podcast industry executives are paid. It tells investors CEO Christopher Spencer was paid $460,000, including a $60,000 bonus, and CFO John Busshaus earned $395,000 including a $45,000 bonus. It also points out there was no base salary increase for top executives last year.
Of all downloads on podcasts hosted by the company, nearly two-thirds (63.5%) were in the U.S. during February, Libsyn VP of podcaster relations Rob Walch said on the company’s latest The Feed podcast. And 84.7% were on mobile devices.