ABC Audio and ESPN Audio may be sisters, but each has until now separately sold their own podcast advertising. Seeing an opportunity to grow revenue, parent The Walt Disney Co. is now putting the two divisions together when they knock on advertisers’ doors. ESPN Audio’s ad sales team will now also represent all the ABC Audio podcasts.
Described as a “strategic collaboration,” ESPN had already been handling ad sales for the podcasts produced by sister FiveThirtyEight and National Geographic, of which Disney owns a majority stake. The cross-selling effort began this week, according to Tom Brady, Senior Director of ESPN Audio Ad Sales, who announced the relationship during the RAIN Podcast Business Summit in New York on Wednesday.
“Adding ABC Audio’s podcasts under the ESPN Audio sales umbrella will provide advertisers with one-stop shopping, enhancing the value and efficiency they receive from a larger stable of premium and compelling content,” said ESPN's Tom Ricks, VP of ESPN Audio Digital Strategy and Marketing. “We reach complementary audiences – adding even more value for advertisers.”
Six years ago, ABC Audio struck a deal with Skyview Networks to sell the inventory for its broadcast radio network and has signed an extension through 2026. And most recently had been working with an outside vendor to sell ABC Audio podcast inventory.
By handing ad sales duties to ESPN, Stacia Philips Deshishku, VP/General Manager of ABC Audio, said her team will keep its focus on content. “Our goal for ABC Audio remains – to be a powerhouse of podcast production at ABC News and across Walt Disney Television,” she said in a statement. “Now, working with ESPN Audio, we have a unique opportunity to scale our podcast ad sales alongside those of other Disney business units and share synergies along the way." Deshishku said the release of podcasts such as Truth and Lies: Jeffrey Epstein and Have You Seen This Man? Are “just the start” of the “smart programming” that ABC Audio plans to roll out this year.