When Chris Peterson talks about podcasting, the industry listens.
Peterson has spent just shy of two decades in the broadcast radio and podcast industries, and is known as one of the masterminds behind iHeart Media’s initial podcast strategy – iHeartPodcasts has since grown to be the number one podcast publisher globally.
Nowadays, Peterson is in the business of private equity investments, but remains very much embedded in the global podcast industry.
His investment company, DWNLOAD Media takes majority equity stakes in podcast content companies and then aims to grow their revenues and profits through his and his team’s strategic input.
To buy those stakes, DWNLOAD has raised capital from investors including institutional fund managers and family offices.
“Since announcing DWNLOAD Media, I’ve spent my days talking to hundreds of podcast companies. I’ve traveled from the US to Europe to Asia and back, learning about the podcast industry around the globe. With the help of our partners at RockWater Industries, we’ve done due diligence on more than 60 podcast companies, and we’ve completed deep dives on more than a dozen,” he says.
It’s clear this is man who believes the podcast industry still has a lot of growth to come – he’s all in.
But after a period of explosive growth and manic M&A activity, what will be the next big growth drivers in what many naysayers believe is a stagnating industry?
Peterson outlined these big podcast industry predictions in a new report.
1) New podcast tech
The podcast industry is attracting top talent like never before, according to Peterson.
“Smart people are coming into the podcast space to create better ad tech and attribution—which, to be frank—is a blue ocean of opportunities,” he says.
“New technologies will undoubtedly increase the ad spend of major brands, increasing the overall ad marketplace globally.”
He points to Kal Amin, a former Google and Spotify executive who founded Sounder, an AI-driven audio insights company which recently announced it would open up its full technology stack to support growing the podcast universe.
“This is just one of many examples,” he says. “Expect new products and services to be built on top of their technology that can drive discovery, recommendations, measurements, and audience growth.
2) Podcast subscription revenue
This is a part of the industry that has been slow-going. But Peterson thinks that will soon change.
He’s uncovered success stories outside the US which have given him confidence in the podcast subscription model.
One such success story is Naudio, a Stockholm-based subscription-only platform for audio documentaries.
Peterson predicts that for many high-quality networks, “subscriptions will become a significant driver of revenue, if not the majority of revenue, in the next few years”.
3) Podcast licensing
Hot of the heels of Joe Rogan’s mega podcast licensing deal with Spotify, Peterson thinks we’re going to see a lot more of this sort of deal-making.
“Platforms like Spotify and Apple should be expected to compensate high-quality creators for their content, unlocking new revenue streams via licensing or, at least, via marketing.”
“After all, the platforms are building their subscription platforms, outside of podcasting, off the back of content they are getting for free. Seems like it’s time to level the playing field a bit.”
4) International growth
Peterson is also excited about under-appreciated podcast markets.
Whether it’s China with an estimated 144 million podcast listeners, Indonesia with podcast reach currently hitting 40% of the population (and growing), or in Europe where the podcast market is set to grow at a CAGR of 28% between 2022–2027, Peterson says exponential growth is everywhere.
“There is a massive opportunity internationally, which investors in the US often overlook”.
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