As television viewing continues to hit potholes amid a consistently deflating audience, the industry is fueling a clever companion to amp passion for hit TV shows and streaming series. The Wall Street Journal’s headline: “Can’t Get Enough of the TV Series? Here’s the Podcast.”
It’s not a new trend, as Podcast News Daily has frequently reported, but it is certainly gaining traction. And it now appears to work both ways. “Over the past couple years, networks and streaming services have increasingly looked to the podcast world for content ideas, acquiring and adapting audio programs such as Wondery’s series ‘Dirty John’ and Gimlet Media’s ‘Homecoming’ into scripted TV series,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
And now, they are turning to podcasts to boost loyalty among fans “with a seemingly endless appetite for in-the-weeds details about their favorite TV series,” the Journal says. Eric Pallotta, Netflix’s VP of Brand and Editorial notes, “I like how the podcast space opens up the access to those types of stories to anyone.”
A prime example of the trend is HBO’s “Chernobyl,” which won 10 Emmys last month. Jim Marsh, Senior VP of Digital Marketing and Content at HBO, says he was surprised to see the audio accompaniment to the show emerge as “almost a required part of the viewing experience.” After the first episode aired in early May, “The Chernobyl Podcast” climbed to the No. 2 podcast across all categories on iTunes, “shocking everyone involved,” the Journal says. To date, the show has generated more than 10 million plays across various platforms, including HBO Go and HBO Now.
In July, Netflix marketing executives were similarly plussed when their new podcast, “Behind the Scenes: Stranger Things 3”—a companion piece to the third season of sci-fi drama “Stranger Things”—became Netflix’s most popular podcast ever, hitting No. 3 on the iTunes charts. Hosted by “Stranger Things” superfan Dan Taberski (also host of hit podcast “Missing Richard Simmons”) the three-episode audio “miniseries” included interviews with cast, crew members and writers, along with details about production design, costume and special-effects decisions.
Netflix is apparently impressed enough by the power of podcasting to now unveil at least two more companion podcasts, including the November debut of “Behind the Irishman,” which will detail the making of Martin Scorsese’s film “The Irishman.”
Other networks are also getting into companion podcasting, according to the WSJ feature. CBS Studios announced at Comic Con that this year it will launch “Prime Directive: The Official Star Trek Podcast” to accompany a variety of “Star Trek Universe” content on CBS All Access, including a new animated series “Star Trek: Lower Decks.”
“In a time when content discovery is a huge challenge for networks, developing a companion podcast is increasingly viewed as a worthwhile investment, not just to draw attention to the show, but, the thinking goes, to inspire podcast listeners to buy monthly subscriptions,” the WSJ story suggests.
For a roster of those TV shows that are developing companion podcasts, see the WSJ story HERE.