The potential revenue brought in by international podcasts will come in handy for iHeartMedia, a company that last month listed its shares on Nasdaq after emerging from bankruptcy with roughly $10 billion lopped off its debt load. Until now, the company’s business has largely been restricted to the United States, although the iHeartRadio app is available in Canada, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand.
The dive into podcasts may be a necessity for a company built on audio. This year Spotify has spent more than $400 million to acquire several podcast companies while signaling that it might buy more. A new service, Luminary, arrived in April with an ambitious plan, backed by $100 million in funding, to be the Netflix of podcasts, with exclusive, ad-free content.
On Wednesday, Entercom Communications, the second-largest broadcast radio company after iHeartMedia, announced that it was buying two podcast companies, Pineapple Street Media and Cadence13.
American listeners helped create the podcast boom, but the medium is expanding rapidly around the world. More than half of Spotify’s podcast audience is outside the United States, the company said. Last month, two podcast companies, Stitcher and Wondery, announced a partnership to capture more advertising in Britain.
“It has always been more global than we thought,” said Tom Webster of Edison Research, which tracks consumer media behavior.
Erik Diehn, Stitcher’s chief executive, said that about 15 percent of the company’s traffic came from outside the United States. Conal Byrne, the president of the iHeartPodcast Network, said that the international popularity of “Stuff You Should Know” was underscored last year when the hosts toured Australia and New Zealand.
The translation plan that iHeartMedia has come up with for its podcasts is a substantial bet on the growth of the medium overseas. To prepare new editions of the shows, it must transcribe and translate scripts and cast voice actors and hosts who can approximate the tone and attitude of the originals, like the low-key, geeky enthusiasm of Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant from “Stuff You Should Know.”
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