JD Crowley on speaking, podcasting and the sinking of Audacy. | Daily News Podcast


Thanks to its acquisition of CBS Radio in 2017, Audacy has an enviable portfolio of spoken word content. Although news, talk and sports programs are expensive to produce, they also do not require paying royalties to content owners like music programs do. With highly successful spoken word stations across the country, including in the largest markets, Audacy is able to derive 40% of its revenue from the content it owns and produces.

“It’s unique amongst our competitive set and it’s given us a lot of clearance to get into things like podcasting, to get into things like our new BetQL sports betting network and to get into other areas,” said digital director JD Crowley last week during Variety Entertainment. & Tech Summit. “And spoken word also creates daily connections and habits with listeners and with advertisers.”

A Q&A with an Audacy C-suite wouldn’t be complete without addressing what Andrew Wallenstein, president of Variety Intelligence Platform and chief media analyst, has called “the elephant in the room” – the Audacy’s plummeting share price.

Crowley explained that shortly before COVID hit, Audacy (then known as Entercom) acquired Pineapple Street Media for $18 million and bought the 55% of Cadence 13 it didn’t already own. . In total, the company paid $48 million for the two podcast companies. “In the podcast space, we were growing our direct-to-consumer streaming service, ratings were up, reach was great on the radio, advertisers were starting to work on things like the programmatic audio, and we were starting to lean on platform pipes,” Crowley recounted during The Future of Audio is Now Panel. “And then of course the world stopped. And the market went crazy. Everyone fell, including us.

Last year was a year of rebuilding and 2022 is off to a good start. Then came the war in Ukraine, record inflation and recession fears. “Starting from a smaller post-COVID base kind of puts us where we are,” Crowley continued. But the company remains committed to its strategy and its assets, he added.

“As we come out of this period of disruption, our numbers start to increase and we really show the street proof – and I think that’s the key, isn’t it? Growing businesses have been turned into demo stories this year. They’re not really in vogue like they used to be. And as our growth business comes out, as our spot business in linear radio also starts to pick up, we think we’ll get paid for it. So I consider this a temporary disturbance.

According to WARC, audio captures 31% of media consumption, but only 9% of ad spend. Crowley compared this to the huge difference several years ago between mobile media consumption and its share of advertising: “We’re kind of where mobile was a few years ago. There’s this rediscovery of ongoing audio, audio consumption is increasing, radio is the #1 medium in the United States, over 90% of Americans regularly listen to broadcast radio.

The gap between usage and ad spend will narrow

Crowley also argued that the huge gap between time spent with audio and its share of ad spend will narrow as marketers make changes in the way they buy media, leaning more into audio. programmatic buying and unified buying platforms. “We know the playbook in video is exactly what’s going to happen in audio,” he predicted. As advertisers seek to replace audience impressions lost due to diminishing television reach and for brand-safe digital impressions, radio, podcasting and streaming are becoming a more attractive proposition. “I can make the case for linear radio because of consumption, but the case should really be made for audio more generally, and for how linear and streaming, digital and targeted podcasting, host play and programmatic – how these work together for advertisers. ”

Despite the meteoric rise in podcast listening, Crowley said streaming radio is growing faster today.

Audacy doesn’t offer podcast subscriptions as a way to avoid ads, but Crowley says it’s “a little too early” to tell where things will land in the long run. “I think podcasting will be a diverse set of models,” he said. He also said advertising dollars flowing into the medium are heavier than ever. “We used to say podcasting was an 80/20 business, where 80% of the dollars and viewership went to 20% of the shows. I would say now it’s probably a 95/5 business,” he said. Audacy announced plans to revamp its listening app, and Crowley told the Variety panel that includes making its radio broadcast more like streaming TV. “You can rewind live radio, you can rewind and play shows from earlier in the day, all cloud-based,” he said.


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