Outside the U.S. one of the biggest markets for podcast listening is the U.K. and that’s led Stitcher and Wondery to partner on a new podcast platform they’re calling Podfront UK. The joint venture will not only bring another way for the two companies to expose their catalog of more than 300 shows to U.K. audiences but also help scale the podcasts that are being produced there for an international audience.
Ruth Fitzsimons has been recruited to lead Podfront. She was most recently SVP of International Operations and Content at the London-based Audioboom. There she oversaw Audioboom’s U.K., Indian and Australian operations. In her new role as managing director of Podfront, Fitzsimons will build sales, content and marketing teams. She’ll also look to expand Podfront to other European countries where there the company sees an opening.
“Podfront UK represents an exciting new chapter for podcasting,” said Fitzsimons. “It is a testament to the rapid growth of the medium that two of the world's biggest podcast companies, Stitcher and Wondery, have come together to grow their respective revenue internationally and create a high-quality podcast network outside of the U.S.”
The data shows 7.6 million people in the U.K. now listen to podcasts every week, a 25% increase compared to a year ago. Yet the ad dollars being spent in the U.K. podcast marketplace are considerably smaller than in the U.S. By some estimates it totals just $15 million—well below the $678.7 million in revenue that the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) projects U.S. podcast companies will see in 2019. But there are positive signs. A survey of 215 ad buyers released this month by DAX, the digital audio exchange owned by the U.K. broadcaster Global, found 75% of advertisers planned to increase their investment in podcast advertising during the next 12 months. And 49% of survey respondents agreed that podcasts create greater reach with a highly engaged and diverse audience.
“By partnering with Wondery in this endeavor, we bring together our networks and combined expertise to continue this momentum within the European market,” said Erik Diehn, CEO of Stitcher in the announcement. According to Stitcher’s sales organization Midroll, the U.K. ranks third in listening across the company’s network. Podfront will mean that for the first time advertisers in the U.K. will have the opportunity to directly access a large catalog of podcasts from Wondery and Stitcher.
Wondery has also seen the U.K. grow into an important distribution point for its podcasts, including Dirty John and Dr. Death, both of which resonated with British listeners just as much as they did with the American audience. “Our shows are resonating with audiences in the U.K., with two of them reaching No.1 on Apple Podcasts so far in 2019,” said Hernan Lopez, founder and CEO of Wondery. “Now we’ll be in a position to directly engage with brand advertisers in the U.K.” Last month Wondery announced it had raised $10 million in new financing, money which it said would be used in part to fuel its global growth. It also hired television and digital veteran Declan Moore to head its global efforts.