The podcast listening app Pocket Casts, which has been owned by a trio of public broadcasters since May 2018, is adding a fourth public broadcaster to the consortium. BBC Studios is making an investment in Pocket Casts. Financial terms aren’t being released, including how big an ownership stake BBC Studios will take in Pocket Casts.
The addition of the BBC to Pocket Casts ownership group is a natural fit. The podcast company has been owned by NPR, WNYC Studios and WBEZ Chicago since May 2018. In an announcement, they said bringing together the world’s largest public media entities helps to ensure that consumers get the best listening experience with new investment into Pocket Casts.
“This new partnership with BBC Studios enables Pocket Casts to further our goal of creating the world’s best podcasting platform, for both listeners and publishers,” CEO Owen Grover said in a statement. “We’re committed to an open ecosystem, one that supports independent storytelling, while providing a robust, beautifully designed experience for global podcast fans. With public media’s influence behind us, we feel a deep and abiding obligation to grow the medium.”
BBC Studios is the commercial subsidiary of the British BBC Group, which produces a wide array of content. In the Americas, BBC Studios operates two production units, one in Los Angeles responsible for the television shows “Dancing with the Stars” and “Life Below Zero.” The company also manages joint venture relationships with AMC Networks to create the flagship channel BBC America cable network. To date, BBC Studios has also released several podcasts, including Stay Free: The Story of The Clash, EastEnders: The Podcast tied to the TV series, Eurovision Calling, Susan Calman’s Mrs Brightside and Newsjack Unplugged, among others.
“Pocket Casts is the perfect partner for BBC Studios given they’re recognized as a market leading platform and loved by audiences,” said Nigel Gaines, Interim President of BBC Studios – Americas. “We look forward to being part of Pocket Casts’ next phase of growth, which will further enable audiences to find the best podcast content,” he said in the announcement.
The BBC already has its own app — the BBC Sounds app. But with users in 155 countries, Pocket Casts is likely to give the shows it produces a wider reach around the globe.
Pocket Casts isn’t ruling out other public broadcasters joining its ownership group. “Nothing else to announce at this time, however we are proud to be building a coalition of mission-driven public media,” a spokesperson said.
The addition of the BBC is the latest change at Pocket Casts, which last fall shifted from a subscription app to a free model that offered premium features for paid users. Since then, Pocket Casts has seen a substantial increase in the number of users. Grover said in a recent interview that after they switched to a freemium model, the number of users increased more than 20%.