Pandora has pulled SiriusXM Radio along into the podcasting age. But even as the satellite company breaks in and begins offering some radio shows as podcasts, CEO Jim Meyer thinks how it fits into consumer media habits needs to be kept in perspective.
“Podcasting isn't a revolution. It's just an evolution of how spoken word is being delivered to customers in ways that they may want to enjoy that content,” Meyer said. Yet during a conference call with analysts Wednesday, Meyer said he’s been amused how talent has reacted to podcasting. He pointed to a situation where a personality they approached to do a satellite show dragged their heels about the time commitment required. But when they asked would they like to do a podcast, the talent “jumped all over” the opportunity.
Scott Greenstein, SiriusXM’s president and chief content officer, said he still thinks it remains early in the podcasting timeline. That’s especially true in the embrace from big media brands like TV channels, magazines, or sports leagues creating their own exclusive content geared toward podcast listeners. Greenstein sees that as an opening for SiriusXM.
“Those brands and the bigger names are going to look for quality production, experience, a real depth in audio production. That's where you can embrace our 10 or 12 years as a company of doing this and being at the forefront of this,” Greenstein said. He told analysts it’s not unlike how satellite radio content grew during the past decade. In the meantime, Greenstein said it’s no surprise to see some personalities jump into podcasting on their own. “Many big personalities are perfect for podcasting due to their time schedule,” he said.
SiriusXM Radio’s $3.5 billion acquisition of Pandora produced its first cross-platform programming initiative involving podcasts earlier this month, when the satcaster announced a selection of satellite radio shows will now be available to all Pandora listeners as podcasts. The crown jewel in SiriusXM’s lineup—Howard Stern—isn’t part of the podcast lineup. That’s no surprise since “the King Of All Media” remains one of the driving factors in subscription sales for the satellite radio service.
The addition of SiriusXM content to its podcast lineup comes four months after Pandora made its own move into podcasting, offering more than 100,000 shows across a variety of genres. Pandora has created the Podcast Genome Project to help listeners dig through that catalog. Similar to how its Music Genome Project serves music to listeners, the Podcast Genome Project is a cataloging system and discovery algorithm that uses a combination of technology and human curation. It relies on more than 1,500 attributes such as production style, content type, host profile, timely and evergreen topics, and listener signals including thumbs, skips and replays, to deliver personalized podcast recommendations.
“We will continue to expand podcasting initiatives,” Meyer said. But he also admitted to analysts that how companies will make money from the medium remains unclear to him. “I don't think anybody's figured out the monetization question yet in podcasting,” he told analysts. “And on the other hand, we're just experimenting with it now.”