The focus on digital audio continues to deliver growing revenue for the E.W. Scripps Company. Scripps reports its podcast arm Stitcher saw revenues soar 71.2% during the second quarter compared to a year ago. Sales totaled $17.1 million compared to $10 million during the same period a year ago.
“In the quarter we saw continued demand for podcasting from an ever-expanding roster of brand-named advertisers including State Farm, PepsiCo and JC Penney,” National Media Senior Vice President Laura Tomlin said on a conference call with analysts. “These advertisers and many others now realize the effectiveness of the podcast medium for sharing their message. And Stitcher is well positioned to grow along with that market.”
Stitcher’s biggest podcast success during the second quarter was a May episode of Conan O’Brien Needs A Friend that featured a rare interview with radio personality Howard Stern. It was downloaded 1.4 million times according to Tomlin.
Triton Digital, the online audio measurement and advertising platform company, also posted year-over-year gains. Just how big Scripps wouldn’t say, declining to provide exact billing figures for a year ago prior to its acquisition of the company. Scripps did report Triton Digital revenue totaled $9.9 million during the most recent second quarter. That’s less than the $10.5 million in revenue Triton billed in Q1 but Tomlin said it is “meeting expectations” so far in 2019. “Triton continued its global expansion in the second quarter signing new clients in Brazil and Australia as well as expanding in the U.S., adding Bonneville and others,” she told analysts.
Scripps’ growth into digital audio comes a year after it finished selling its 34 broadcast radio properties. Now it faces some familiar competitors as more radio companies expand into podcasting. The latest came earlier this week as Entercom announced it was buying Cadence 13 and Pineapple Street Media.
“It validates the thesis that we’ve had for a long time. Podcasting is going to be one of the most important platforms for the future of entertainment, story-telling and journalism,” said Scripps CEO Adam Symson. But he also told analysts that Scripps was using a different playbook than some others. “We’re seeing a lot of companies invest with a lack of discipline. That’s not our approach,” Symson said. “I suspect that scale will continue to be important in that marketplace as we push in that same direction, but the recent M&A validates Scripps’ position.”
Tomlin believes the combination of Stitcher’s podcast distribution platform and the Midroll Media advertising rep firm will be part of their success. “Having both an ad rep business and a listening platform will be able to take advantage of any content that’s in the marketplace,” she said.
And Symson told analysts he thinks more radio groups involved in podcasting will open some new doors for Triton Digital, which to date has been primarily focused on tracking listening to streaming music. “As Triton continues to service all of those radio broadcasters on the streaming side, they also are the platform often that the companies are turning to for podcasting,” Symson said.