It’s almost been three years since the public radio consortium made up of NPR, WNYC Studios, WBEZ Chicago, and This American Life acquired the podcast app Pocket Casts. This happened before all the major brands got in on the podcast game which happened a couple of years ago. Now it looks like this consortium is putting Pocket Casts, which is the sole asset of Podcast Media, up for sale. While the “plan of sale is still in development”, the plan is to complete this later this year, specifically by September 2021.
The acquisition of Pocket Casts was first completed back in May 2018. Since then, there have been two major changes, according to 9 to 5 Google. Last March 2019, the Material Theme revamp rolled out to the stable version but was met with a lot of criticism as there were some “conceptual changes” that affected how the app basically functioned. Later that year, the app became free when previously you had to pay $3.99 to be able to download and use it.
They did have the Pocket Casts Plus offering where users paid $9.99 per year to get things like access to the desktop version, Apple Watch support, more themes and icons, and more importantly, cloud storage for those who wanted to upload their own content. The supposed sale of Pocket Casts may not be all that surprising even though no official reason has been stated. But NPR, which owns a third of podcast media, stated that its share lost $812,129 in the past year.
This comes at a time when all the major tech brands like Google, Apple, Spotify, and Amazon are investing heavily in the podcasting space. Over the past couple of years they’ve collectively launched podcast-specific services or integrated podcasts in their own platforms. There have been rumors that some of these companies are working on paid subscription offerings. Having these brands in podcast territory will of course affect the “smaller” apps and podcast services in the industry.
There has been no official announcement from Pocket Casts or the public radio consortium for now. But the latest financial statement of NPR has stated that they have “met and agreed to sell Pocket Casts, the sole asset of Podcast Media”. We’ll find out more in the coming months.