Pivoting … podcasts? That is the general thesis of Wall Street Journal article (subscription required) "For Bill Simmons' The Ringer, Podcasting is the main event" (by Benjamin Mullin and Joe Flint), which badyzes in detail the importance of podcasting for The Ringer. Obviously, the site still has a good amount of written content, and the content of the video also matters to them (especially for projects done in partnership with networks and / or technology companies), but podcasting is becoming their bread and butter.
As Ryan Glbadpiegel points out in The Big Lead, that is also true for Ringer's founder, Simmons. Simmons' authoring source on the site is almost exclusively podcasts now (including his own podcast and his guest appearances on other Ringer podcasts), except for a NBA Commercial Value column in December and a few other columns throughout year. And Simmons' change of focus for his personal work is also seen in his general emphasis on podcasts; The timbre now has 28 podcasts on its network and has made some eye-catching additions in recent months, adding entries from Ryen Russillo and Vince Carter and Kent Bazemore. As explained in the WSJ article, a key reason for that focus on podcasts comes from the difference in ad revenue.
It is no secret to anyone that advertising rates for written content have plummeted, which has been a factor in major layoffs in the media such as Verizon Media (Yahoo / Huffington Post / AOL) and Buzzfeed (but not the only one). in Buzzfeed in particular, the problem was not the profitability in general, but the profits that did not reach the objectives of the investors). It's also no secret that podcasts have worked well for many sports media companies. But it's interesting to hear the details of how well The Ringer is doing with the advertising rates for their podcasts.
According to Mullin and Flint, The Ringer charges between $ 25 and $ 50 for every 1,000 people who listen to an ad in their podcasts. With the site averaging more than 35 million podcast downloads per month in the fourth quarter of 2018, that's a lot of money. The WSJ article says The Ringer earned more than $ 15 million in podcast ad sales in 2018. With its attractive cost per mile and the significant scale they're reaching, it makes sense that podcasting is their focus.
What is also interesting about that piece is how Simmons has said that further expansion for the site will come from its own revenue growth, since he does not aim for more external investments at this time. In order to grow that way, they will need to have significant profits, so this will be an interesting way to track how profitable they really are. Simmons said the site was profitable in 2017, and he reiterates it here, and that's notable for the coverage of where The Ringer is at this moment; It seems that they are not making big splashes to try to increase the audience and attract more external investments, but rather try to take advantage of what they have using their existing income. Then, if they do other hiring or notable expansions, that will suggest that their income is going well.
However, something else that emerges from this article is that this media model focused on the podcast may not be something that can be easily copied elsewhere, however. Simmons mocks how Buzzfeed went to podcasts and then walked away from them, saying that attacking podcasts is why it's like saying that the NBA is fighting in general because the Atlanta Hawks are bad, but the most important thing may be why podcasts they work so well for the bell.
On the one hand, The Ringer began with one of the most popular and long-established sports podcasts on the Simmons show, which helped many listeners to enter. They have also expanded their network with numerous programs focused on people who know Simmons readers and listeners, and Simmons has done a good job incorporating other Ringer personalities into his program to promote his own work. In addition, The Ringer had significant financial backing to get started, and a partnership with HBO (the WSJ notes that HBO owns 10 percent of the company) that helped add more credibility. Therefore, the conclusion is not that all media companies have to resort to podcasts, or that podcasts are successful for everyone. But they certainly seem to be working for Simmons and The Ringer.
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