Spotify’s Ad Business and User Activity Are Trending Upward

With the COVID-19 pandemic, music streaming and media services provider Spotify Technology experienced deep losses in the quarter ending June 30 including declines in daily active users and listening time as well as payroll taxes that were higher than expected. Now the Stockholm-based company reported that its advertising business is improving just as its listeners’ time spent on the app reached pre-pandemic levels. In fact, by the end of the same quarter, all regions served by Spotify — with the exception of Latin America — returned to those levels. Continue reading Spotify’s Ad Business and User Activity Are Trending Upward

SiriusXM Ups Its Podcast Profile With the Purchase of Stitcher

SiriusXM is buying podcast platform Stitcher from the E.W. Scripps Company for $325 million. Scripps purchased Stitcher from Deezer in 2016 for $4.5 million, combining it with Midroll Media, which it bought for $55 million the previous year. Stitcher enables advertisers, creators and publishers to both produce and distribute content. With Stitcher, SiriusXM can now offer original podcasts for listeners. Scripps said Stitcher’s 2019 revenue was $72.5 million, for a compound annual growth rate of 52 percent from 2016 through 2019. Continue reading SiriusXM Ups Its Podcast Profile With the Purchase of Stitcher

BBC Partners with Microsoft to Release Beeb Voice Assistant

The BBC partnered with Microsoft to release an early version of Beeb, its digital voice assistant. Its U.K. debut will be part of Microsoft’s Windows Insider Program to encourage users to help improve Beeb prior to a wider rollout. The BBC first announced Beeb last year, noting that the aim was to integrate voice services into all its products. The public broadcaster will collect data by requiring users to log in to Beeb with their BBC accounts but such data will not be used for targeted ads. Continue reading BBC Partners with Microsoft to Release Beeb Voice Assistant

Google Aims to Make Life Easier While We’re Stuck at Home

Google Search has been offering personalized movie and TV recommendations since last fall. Now it is adding a new Watchlist tab that enables mobile users to easily track and save desired content. In addition, to help Android TV users navigate news and entertainment as we spend more time sheltering at home, Google has introduced three new rows of content from YouTube on the home screen: COVID-19 News, Stay Home #WithMe videos, and ad-supported free movies from YouTube. These new features are among a larger set of announcements made by the company this week. Continue reading Google Aims to Make Life Easier While We’re Stuck at Home

Spotify Tests a Beta Version of Music App Aimed at Children

Spotify Technology has just unveiled an app specifically designed for children between the ages of 3 and 12. Spotify Kids, which is available for free to Spotify Premium Family members, is being tested in the U.K., Sweden, Denmark, Australia and New Zealand. The most notable change is visual: Spotify Kids offers kids the animated creature of their choice to act as an avatar in an environment full of colors and doodles. There are two Spotify Kids versions, one for younger children and another for older ones. Continue reading Spotify Tests a Beta Version of Music App Aimed at Children

Spotify Still Dominates Podcast Space, Acquires The Ringer

Spotify, reporting its Q4 results, revealed that it now has 271 million subscribers, up 31 percent from a year ago, with paying subscribers up 29 percent to 125 million. The company’s overall revenue reached $2 billion, up 24 percent from the previous year, with a gross margin of 25.6 percent. Spotify is still posting operating losses, with Q4’s pegged at $85 million, with its loss per share now at $1.26. Spotify also acquired Bill Simmons’ sports and pop culture website and podcasting network The Ringer. Continue reading Spotify Still Dominates Podcast Space, Acquires The Ringer

Spotify Plans to Run Targeted Ads in its Exclusive Podcasts

During CES 2020, Spotify revealed plans to leverage its massive amount of user data in order to introduce targeted advertising in its exclusive podcast content. With its proprietary Streaming Ad Insertion (SAI) tech, Spotify will analyze data based on user location, type of device, gender, age and more to insert advertisements in real time (Spotify already automates dynamic ad insertion for its music streaming). The company could eventually become a major podcast ad network if it ends up placing ads in other networks’ content as well. Continue reading Spotify Plans to Run Targeted Ads in its Exclusive Podcasts

Facebook Product Experimentation Team Open for Business

According to sources, Facebook’s new division dubbed the New Product Experimentation Team (or NPE Team) is looking into the possibility of creating apps and podcasts for travel, newsletters and workplace services. The NPE Team is tasked with “building the future of Facebook,” as chief executive Mark Zuckerberg hopes to keep the social media platform central to peoples’ daily lives. Other social networks such as Myspace and Friendster failed when they did not evolve beyond their initial offerings. Continue reading Facebook Product Experimentation Team Open for Business

Creatives Are Concerned by Netflix Variable Speed Feature

Netflix is testing variable playback speeds with a small group of Android users, much to the dismay of many Hollywood creatives. Judd Apatow, Brad Bird and Aaron Paul were among those who spoke against the feature, with Apatow noting that “distributors don’t get to change the way the content is presented.” There is evidence that some users prefer to consume media at faster speeds, to improve concentration and cover more material. Netflix vice president Keela Robison said subscribers had “frequently” requested the feature. Continue reading Creatives Are Concerned by Netflix Variable Speed Feature

Marvel to Create Exclusive Podcasts for SiriusXM, Pandora

The Walt Disney Company’s Marvel Entertainment inked a deal with SiriusXM to create exclusive podcasts for the latter’s satellite radio and streaming services, including Pandora. This is SiriusXM’s first major effort in podcasting and is also an attempt to attract more listeners. The deal comes at a time that many media companies are taking their first steps into podcasting. Disney has also focused on expanding Marvel out of big movie theaters and into broadcast television and its Disney+ streaming service. Continue reading Marvel to Create Exclusive Podcasts for SiriusXM, Pandora

HBO, Netflix Find Success With Series Companion Podcasts

HBO’s limited series “Chernobyl” not only won 10 Emmys last month — it’s also been a huge hit as a behind-the-scenes podcast. The first episode of the podcast aired in early May, and — to the shock of everyone involved in it — quickly became the No. 2 podcast across all categories in iTunes. Now, said HBO senior vice president of digital marketing and content Jim Marsh, the podcast has generated more than 10 million plays. Netflix has also found stellar success with its “Behind the Scenes: Stranger Things 3” podcast. Continue reading HBO, Netflix Find Success With Series Companion Podcasts

Podcasters Expand Audiences, Revenue With YouTube Clips

YouTube is quickly becoming a go-to site for podcasters to post video versions of programs also on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and other typical audio platforms. Although YouTube is not designed for podcasts, creators are figuring out ways to leverage the platform for revenue — and people are beginning to seek out podcasts on the site. In Canada, a recent survey revealed that 43 percent of people went to YouTube for podcasts in the last year, compared to 34 percent who went to Apple Podcasts and 23 percent who went to Spotify. Continue reading Podcasters Expand Audiences, Revenue With YouTube Clips

Plex Inks Deal With Warner Bros. for Movies and TV Shows

Media center app developer Plex signed a deal with Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution to add an unspecified number of free movies and TV shows to its app when it debuts ad-supported video streaming later this year. Plex hopes to evolve its app into a “one-stop shop” for digital media, with plans to resell video subscription services and add transactional VOD in 2020. Plex chief executive Keith Valory noted that you “shouldn’t have to go to a lot of different apps to get the content you care about.” Continue reading Plex Inks Deal With Warner Bros. for Movies and TV Shows

Spotify Rolls Out Data Analytics Dashboard For Podcasters

In October, 100,000 podcasts signed up for the beta of Spotify for Podcasters, which provides data on listeners’ age, gender, location, music taste and how long they listened to an episode. When they sign up for an account, Spotify users provide basic demographic information. Now, Spotify is offering the data analytics tool to the 450,000+ shows accessible on its platform. Spotify for Podcasters, now available worldwide but currently only in English, offers much more detailed information than Apple’s podcast data. Continue reading Spotify Rolls Out Data Analytics Dashboard For Podcasters

Google Search Updates Plan to Improve Podcast Discovery

Google now makes it easier for users to find individual podcasts in search results, showing potential episodes that fit search terms and playing back those podcasts. Users will have to ask Google or Google Assistant for podcasts about that particular topic — that is, “find a podcast on golden retrievers” — which will then open in Google Podcasts’ web app. Google, which houses a 2+ million podcast index, said it will eventually support third-party playback and drop the “podcast” search term requirement. Continue reading Google Search Updates Plan to Improve Podcast Discovery

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