How Podcasting Became a Big Business

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Spotify’s deal to buy Gimlet Media for a reported $230 million in February certified that prerecorded radio is big business. And that figure is drawing new interest to the field.

“It was way higher than I expected,” says Nicholas Quah, who runs the podcast newsletter Hot Pod.

While Gimlet has some popular shows, most of its assets are “easily replicable and can be competed against in the open marketplace,” he says.

On its face, podcasting looks like other forms of digital media that have gained prominence and big money in the era of portable, on-demand consumption. Just like streaming television and music, podcasts are simple and inexpensive to access, cover a broad range of genres, and can be paid for either through subscriptions or advertising.

And yet, podcasts are a strange niche phenomenon, too, one that has as much in common with shortwave radio as major media.
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