IHeartMedia looks to bounce back from bankruptcy protection with purchase of podcaster Stuff Media

iHeartMedia acquires HowStuffWorks parent company, almost half a year after filing for bankruptcy protection. / Daniel McCullogh via Unsplash

IHeartMedia has entered agreement to acquire Stuff Media, home of the HowStuffWorks podcast, among other premium podcast titles.

The company has claimed this acquisition will enable the radio distributor to leverage Stuff’s original content to expand its own podcasting platform, and increase the gap between its spot as top global commercial podcast publisher and double its usage metrics.

IHeartRadio already has secured partnerships with major podcasters, including NPR, WNYC, ESPN, and Gimlet Media and has featured more than 20,000 podcasts so far. Before this acquisition, iHeartRadio podcast listening growth has been up 73% year-over-year in 2018 vs 2017. In addition to original podcasts, iHeartMedia’s also launched a 'Podcast, Meet Broadcast' initiative that enables podcast creators to scale their audiences through iHeartMedia’s broadcast radio stations, which reach more than 90 percent of Americans each month.

The new acquisition started as reference site HowStuffWorks, but expanded into the podcast space and became on the of the first companies to drive revenue from its explanatory shows. Stuff Media has turned into one of the country's largest podcast publishers, with over 61m downloads per month, globally.

Bob Pittman, chairman and chief executive of iHeartMedia, said in a statement: “While podcasting has already experienced tremendous growth, the real opportunity to bring the full potential of podcasts to the mainstream still lies ahead. This strategic acquisition will pair Stuff Media’s wildly popular content and strong creative capabilities with iHeartMedia’s extensive resources and massive scale through our digital platforms, social reach and broadcast radio stations, introducing podcasts to the vast majority of the country and offering even more unique opportunities for advertisers to reach their consumers.”

Conal Byrne, who was president and chief executive of Stuff Media, has now taken over the role of iHeartMedia’s head of podcasts. Byrne said: “HowStuffWorks was a proud pioneer of the podcasting medium more than 10 years ago, and we are truly excited to be taking the next step with iHeart to chart the industry’s course for the next decade."

Stuff Media’s podcasts have retained their branding and their headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia with Byrne staying on as president and chief executive of its studio. Byrne has been reporting to Darren Davis, president of iHeartMedia Networks Group and iHeartRadio.

Davis added: “Our unique iHeartRadio podcasts from our influencers such as Bobby Bones, Elvis Duran, The Breakfast Club and others, have created a whole new category. By acquiring Stuff Media, we’ll not only integrate its slate of original content, but more importantly, we’ll gain the most innovative minds in the podcasting industry to turbocharge our efforts.”

This acquisition also marked the first major move by iHeartMedia since filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in March for debts totaling upwards of $200m. The transaction is subject to bankruptcy court approval.

Get The Drum Newsletter

Build your marketing knowledge by choosing from daily news bulletins or a weekly special.