PodcastOne Aims to Become the First Publicly-Traded Podcasting Powerhouse

Samson Amore

Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He holds a degree in journalism from Emerson College. Send tips or pitches to samsonamore@dot.la and find him on Twitter @Samsonamore.

PodcastOne Aims to Become the First Publicly-Traded Podcasting Powerhouse
Photo by C D-X on Unsplash

PodcastOne, a division of audio streaming and event company LiveOne, is planning to go public in a deal that would make it the first Los Angeles podcast-exclusive audio company to be publicly traded.

Several of PodcastOne’s biggest competitors – iHeartMedia, SiriusXM and Spotify – already have publicly listed securities. But Beverly Hills-based PodcastOne would be the first local podcast company to go public.

“All those guys are our partners,” LiveOne CEO Robert Ellin said of Spotify and Apple. “We distribute across all of them. [But] we’re very different, we are a small production distribution house that is laser focused on only podcasting whereas podcasting is a piece of their business, but it’s a much smaller piece [of] their overall companies.”

Ellin said that many of PodcastOne’s creators are also equity holders in the company, and stand to benefit directly from this listing. The CEO also claimed it would give podcast fans a chance to invest directly in the content they care about.

PodcastOne was launched in March 2007 by PodcastOne founder and president Kit Gray and National Radio Hall of Famer Norm Pattiz, who previously ran radio syndication firm WestwoodOne. LiveOne, formerly known as LiveXLive, bought PodcastOne in July 2020 for $16.1 million.

The deal saw PodcastOne become a wholly owned subsidiary of LiveOne, which itself went public in October 2017. Currently, LiveOne is not profitable, but it’s hoping another public spin-off could tip the scales.

The offering would spin out PodcastOne as a separate division of LiveOne and expects shares to begin trading at around $8 to $12 each. PodcastOne didn’t disclose how much it expected to net from the offering or when it expects to actually begin trading.

In 2021, the podcast advertising market surpassed $1 billion in ad revenue for the first time. It’s estimated that roughly 20% of internet users worldwide listened to podcasts in 2022, and that’s expected to grow to 23.5% by next year, according to analysts at Insider Intelligence.

But while podcast listenership is there, the advertising and sponsorship dollars are more flighty. To that end, Ellin said he expects this year will be “really tough” for sponsorship as companies cut ad spend to weather a more tumultuous economic climate. But, he expects the industry will mature and asserted, “it’s going to [grow] $10 billion over the next 10 years.”

Gray agreed and added, “the whole world is slowing down in terms of advertising spend, [and] people are making sure they’re spending money on stuff that works.” He noted that podcasts provide a generally straightforward picture of audience engagement, since most podcast ads are still affiliate links: hosts offer a code, and advertisers can see how many people use it to sign up for the service.

In a February quarterly filing, LiveOne reported that 35% of its revenue came from advertising. That was mainly driven by PodcastOne, which helped grow the company’s advertising revenue by 3% annually in 2022. Ads were the second-largest share of its income besides paid customer revenue – and the LiveOne network has approximately 1.9 million paid members. Overall last year, PodcastOne lost $3 million on revenue of $32.3 million.

It’s no wonder then that the company is keen to expand its podcast business to public markets. If all goes well, it could open the door for more content with which to sell even more valuable advertising.

“We’re [at a] $125 million valuation,” Ellin said. “Overall, as I see this industry, not only are you going to have the growth in just pure podcasting, but podcasting, live shows, products around podcasts.”

Ellin told dot.LA that existing shareholders of LiveOne will automatically receive dividends of PodcastOne stock based on how many LiveOne shares they hold; up to 16%. New investors will have the chance to buy in once PodcastOne is public under the symbol “PODC.” In a recent S-1 filing, PodcastOne said it plans to list on the NASDAQ.

Some of PodcastOne’s more than 200 shows include “The Adam Carolla Show,” “Ladygang,” and “Gals on the Go,” and cumulatively they garner around 5.2 unique million monthly downloads in the U.S. and 32.7 million monthly downlaods globally. It also recently acquired the distribution and ad rights for two new shows, “Causing a Scene with Sara and Natalie” and “I’ve Had It.”

Gray told dot.LA that while the network’s shows run the gamut from sports to true crime to literature, it really targets one demographic in particular: Moms. That’s mainly because ad agencies were eager to capture their purchasing power in households. Ironically, though, female podcast hosts have a harder time selling ads than men, as well as a steeper climb up the charts.

“We created a female network that is second to none,” Gray said. And as such, there’s a lot of content on PodcastOne geared towards women aged 25-44. But this upcoming public offering could give the company a chance to further expand its audience.


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LA Tech Week: Technology and Storytelling for Social Good

Decerry Donato

Decerry Donato is a reporter at dot.LA. Prior to that, she was an editorial fellow at the company. Decerry received her bachelor's degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She continues to write stories to inform the community about issues or events that take place in the L.A. area. On the weekends, she can be found hiking in the Angeles National forest or sifting through racks at your local thrift store.

LA Tech Week: Technology and Storytelling for Social Good
Photo taken by Decerry Donato

On Monday, Los Angeles-based philanthropic organization Goldhirsh Foundation hosted the Technology and Storytelling For Social Good panel at Creative Visions studio to kick off LA Tech week.

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Each of the panelists are grantees of Goldhirsh Foundation’s LA2050, an initiative launched in 2011 that is continuously trying to drive and track progress toward a shared vision for the future of Los Angeles. Goldhirsh’s vision is to make Los Angeles better for all and in order to achieve their goal, the foundation makes investments into organizations, creates partnerships and utilizes social capital through community events.

The panelists shared how the work they are doing in each of their respective sectors uses technology to solve some of society's most pressing challenges and highlight the importance of tech literacy across every community.

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Here’s What To Do At LA Tech Week

Kristin Snyder

Kristin Snyder is dot.LA's 2022/23 Editorial Fellow. She previously interned with Tiger Oak Media and led the arts section for UCLA's Daily Bruin.

Here’s What To Do At LA Tech Week
Evan Xie

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