Cheers, ESPN Hobey Baker Podcasts Teased at IAB Podcast Upfront 2024

By Chanak Maduranga

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Cheers, ESPN Hobey Baker Podcasts Teased at IAB Podcast Upfront 2024

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) held their 2024 Podcast Upfront in New York on Thursday, May 9. IAB gathered brands, agencies and media buyers to provide an exclusive glimpse into upcoming podcast programing.

The event, of which The Hollywood Reporter was a media sponsor, included presentations from Wondery, iHeartPodcasts, Acast, NPR, SiriusXM Media, Libsyn Ads, Paramount Audio, Seekr, WNYC Studios, POD Digital Media, Cumulus Media, Better Collective, The Daily Wire, Claritas, Sonoro, YAP Media Network and ESPN Podcasts.

The day was hosted by YAP Media Network podcast hosts Jenna Kutcher of The Goal Digger podcast and Rachel Rodgers of Hello Seven. During the panels, it was shared that, according to Edison Research, 135 million people listen to a podcast monthly and that 60 percent of adults listen to podcasts monthly. Meanwhile, according to Acast, 36 percent of adults have never listened to a podcast and there is still untapped potential to grow audiences.

In creating the day’s agenda, IAB aimed to be reflective of the “pressing and current themes” in the podcasting space, from expected growth in revenue to evolving advertising strategies to video podcasts.

“You’re talking about an industry that’s been on a really impressive hot streak, both from an advertiser interest perspective, from a listener interest perspective, from a revenue perspective,” Matt Shapo, IAB’s director of digital audio and video, tells The Hollywood Reporter.

“What we did this year, as we were preparing thematically, was thinking about ways that we could continue to, from an editorial perspective, highlight the strengths of the medium for listeners and advertisers alike,” he adds.

Unsurprisingly, many networks unveiled several new shows, including Jon Stewart‘s The Weekly Show, teased via a show-stealing video message aired during the Paramount Audio presentation.

The former and current weekly Daily Show host joked through the video about what kind of advertising he’d be open to (snacks and outerwear) and why he couldn’t make the event (“When they told me about it, I didn’t believe there was an upfront for podcasts”).

SiriusXM showcased an upcoming Cheers podcast, Where Everybody Knows Your Name with Ted Danson and Woody Harrelson (Sometimes), co-hosted by show alums Danson and Harrelson. The show is set to premiere in just over a month on June 12.

Other notable announcements included The Offensive Line hosted by social media star Annie Agar for Wondery and ESPN’s upcoming podcast Searching for Hobey Baker, the latter a story about the college hockey player and World War I fighter pilot. The podcast will be released in June, tied specifically to Pride Month, as the show plans to “re-contextualize the hockey legend through the lens of his lesser known struggles as a queer man in the early 20th century,” according to a release.

Overall, for IAB, podcasting is a special medium for advertisers and consumers due to the unique nature of the relationship between hosts and audiences. “You are specifically selecting one-on-one time with that content unlike you’re doing with any other type of content,” says Chris Bruderle, IAB’s vice president of industry insights and content strategy.

Looking back at this year’s upfront, IAB found a few key takeaways. “Podcast is now a multi-platform medium,” Bruderle notes. “It is not just an audio medium. It is a video medium, and it is also an events medium.”

Bruderle noted that ad revenue growth for the year was five percent. For a combination of reasons, video and events being one of them, that number is projected to increase, Bruderle says, with IAB projecting a 12 percent increase.

Looking forward from Thursday’s upfront, IAB sees industry-wide trends that are likely to evolve over the year. One thing that was at the top of mind, according to IAB executives, is a real shift in attitude of which podcasts advertisers will want to buy into. Shapo noted that advertisers are beginning to see that some of the most effective advertising can be done on smaller shows with highly engaged audiences.

“We are finally beginning to have a mindset shift, where buyers don’t necessarily think they have to only buy the top 10, 50, 100 shows that they’ve heard of,” Shapo observes, adding, “You might get more sales out of a 7,000 downloads-a-month show, then you get out of a 100,000 downloads-a-month show, because it’s just the perfect environment in which to share that message.”

Chanak Maduranga

passionate journalist behind 'USA News Now 24', dedicated to delivering timely and accurate updates on US affairs. Committed to journalistic integrity and informing audiences with credible news coverage.

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