Elisabeth Oberndorfer talked to Andy about his plans for Panoply and the “rebirth” of podcasting. You can here more from Andy at the Digital Innovators’ Summit (20-22 March) in Berlin, where he will be one of more than 45 speakers.
Why did Slate decide to launch its own podcasting network?
When we began podcasting at Slate ten years ago, we quickly found that it was one of the signature things the magazine did. The listeners, while not as numerous as Slate’s readership, were fiercely loyal and engaged, and came back week after week to spend time with our hosts. Last year, we decided to bring our expertise in creating and selling podcasts to other publishers, authors, and thought leaders, and founded Panoply.
Can you tell us a little about how Panoply operates? And what are your responsibilities as CCO?
Panoply currently has about 25 employees, and will grow significantly this year. There are several arms to the business, including an experienced ad sale team, and new technology team running our recently-announced ad insertion platform Megaphone, plus of course the content side. As CCO, I help current and potential partners create and maintain great podcasts, and also decide which new projects are a good fit for the Panoply network.
You’re also producing podcasts for other publishers. Is it more efficient for media companies to outsource their podcast production?
In some cases yes. Talking into microphones seems easy, but doing it well, and creating shows that listeners really care about, is much harder. Ad sales for podcasts are also a very specialised field, and even companies with experienced sales teams find it challenging. We offer as much or as little help as our partners need, depending on how experienced they are. But going it alone is challenging.
Which one is your most popular podcast right now?
Our original science fiction drama “The Message” was the biggest podcast of the last year for us. Our biggest show for the last few years has been our flagship political talk show “The Political Gabfest”.
Podcasting has been around for a decade, but came back big time (in especially the US) last year with Serial – with a lot of hype. Do you think the demand for podcasts will grow even more in the next years or will it cool down?
I think the hype around podcasts waxes and wanes, but listenership continues to grow. Once someone starts listening to podcasts, and has the experience of hearing what they want on their own schedule, they’re generally hooked. So I suspect the ‘hype’ will die down a little over the next year or so, but the medium will grow at a healthy pace.
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