Fireside, the content platform backed in part by billionaire Mark Cuban, has gone live. Fireside has been in private beta for the past several months and has already attracted hundreds of creators and claims audience reach of more than 100 million. It aims to work with podcasters to go beyond being a place where live audio chats are recorded and distributed.
The app has drawn comparisons to live audio apps like Clubhouse and Twitter Spaces by allowing creators to create live interactive shows that can be distributed on their own websites and social media, as well as on social media platforms like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitch. But unlike the other live audio apps, Fireside will record the shows and make them available for on-demand listening. To lure creators it has also offered a wider variety of analytics. It says it will show what content is most interesting to their audience, and allows producers to quickly edit the content before distributing publicly. To monetize the content, Fireside says it will embrace dynamic ad insertion into the podcast recordings, as well as other monetization options such as selling tickets and allowing producers to create of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) from their content.
“As someone who helped start the streaming industry, I’ve seen it evolve in many ways. The one element that has always been missing is tactile interactivity with audiences,” said Cuban. “Fireside changes that. With Fireside, creators can now broadcast and achieve the same experience as they would standing on a stage in front of an audience.”
Fireside teamed with the podcast hosting company Libsyn to sell its advertising as well as distribute any of the live shows that are turned into a podcast. And an open RSS-based distribution will ensure that any podcast is widely available across a spectrum of listening apps with the push of a button.
Despite its outreach to podcasters, Fireside has had an initial chilly response from many in the industry after Cuban and CEO Falon Fatemi rolled out their new product at Podcast Movement with a pitch that rubbed many the wrong way as Cuban called the current podcast distribution “old, tired and beat up.”
None of that language was repeated in their announcement about their launch. Instead, Fatemi pitched Fireside as a way for content creators to cut out the middlemen and give them more ownership of their work. “Today, the top platforms own audience and analytics, but now with Fireside, the creator actually owns their content, audience, and analytics andcan distribute it everywhere and monetize everything,” she said.
Currently, Fireside is available on all iOS devices and shows can be consumed through a browser with plans for Android in the near future.
Fireside was cofounded by Cuban, Fatemi and former Yanner executive Mike Ihbe. The Verge reported during the summer that it was also looking to bring some podcasters and other content creators onboard as investors. The company has declined to say if any have invested in the company so far although it is in the process of a first fundraising round. Fatemi also told TechCrunch that Cuban is more involved in the day-to-day operations of Fireside than some of the entrepreneur and television host’s other ventures. “He’s incredibly involved,” Fatemi said.