Thursday, November 5, 2015

Pandora becomes instant talk radio giant with Serial podcast deal

Written by Music Business Worldwide — With one fell swoop, Pandora just became one of the most significant talk radio networks in the world.

The streaming services has just become the exclusive streaming partner for breakout podcast Serial.

Season One of the celebrated podcast, from creators This American Life, will be made available in its entirety on Pandora from November 24 – just before the US Thanksgiving holiday.

Season Two doesn’t yet have an official launch date. But it will ‘air’ on Pandora every Thursday at 6am ET – simulcast on the Serial podcast feed (where listeners can also access the podcast).

Over eight million people have downloaded each episode of Serial’s first season.

On weeks that Serial is not coming out with new episodes, This American Life is usually the US’s most popular podcast, with over 2.2 million downloads per episode.

Pandora’s 78m listeners will be able to select which episodes they would like to listen to, as well as where in the episode they would like to tune in.

“Serial Season One was a phenomenon and we at Pandora are among the many eagerly anticipating Season Two,” said Brian McAndrews, CEO of Pandora.

“We think our listeners will love Serial and look forward to helping build its growing number of fans.”

Ira Glass, editorial advisor of Serial and host of This American Life, said: “For people already listening to Serial and This American Life, nothing will change. But we believe lots of people who’d like our shows simply haven’t heard of them, or haven’t started listening to podcasts.

“Serial is the biggest podcast in the world, but only 17% of Americans listen to podcasts at all. That’s why it’s so exciting for us to work with Pandora.

“Pandora reaches millions of people who never listen to public radio or download podcasts. This’ll get our shows to them.”

“We also have our fingers crossed that Sarah Koenig’s voice sounds enough like Justin Bieber’s that Pandora’s genome pushes the show on hordes of millennials,” Glass joked, referencing the service’s signature music recommendation system.

Pandora said that its move into podcasts provided ‘the opportunity to introduce its listeners to a growing content stream’. A Serial station will launch on the service.

“Serial and Pandora are a perfect fit,” continued McAndrews.

“We are always looking to delight our listeners with engaging and cutting-edge programming, while Serial is looking to reach the largest audience possible. This gives Pandora listeners yet another reason to tune in.”

Each Serial episode will be broken into five minute chunks on Pandora, allowing listeners to more easily pick up where they left off, go back to re-listen, or skip ahead. This will not affect the experience for those who want to listen to an episode in its entirety; each will play through with no interruptions.

This is not the first time Pandora has offered its listeners non-music content. Beginning in 2011, comedy was added to the platform and there are currently more than 20 comedy-specific stations.

Earlier this year, through a partnership with Ford F-150, “Country Built” was launched – a unique combination of both music and non-music content chronicling the history of country music narrated and hosted by songwriter Otis Gibbs.

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