What the sale of Stitcher means for publishers

Written by Osayanmo Osarenkhoe

Narrated by Colin Watts

Photo by Tian Kuan on Unsplash

You've probably listened to hours of podcasts this week, but all your news is consumed digitally.

The most innovative publishers have moved into the audio space because they see the huge opportunity it offers, and the risk of this becoming another area dominated by tech giants. Today’s purchase of Stitcher should be a signpost to all publishers to make audio investment a key digital strategy for 2020.

It’s become very apparent for anyone who is paying attention that audio is going to have a larger role to play in the publishing industry. Three signposts for this:

  1. The proliferation of audio connected devices and smart speakers (fastest adoption trend in history) because every industry knew audio was the future. 
  2. Innovative major players in the publishing space investing heavily in audio –  the acquisition of Audm by the NYT, and the release of Apple News+ Audio Stories.
  3. Podcasts growing exponentially  –  the sale of Stitcher, which Bill Rosenblatt writes for Forbes “…is yet another sign that podcasting is growing in commercial importance…”


Given that knowledge, all publishers should expect to move into the audio digital market in the 2020s. But why does Stitcher’s purchase make this an urgent priority? 

As Tom Dotan of the Information put’s it, “Stitcher is one of the biggest podcast apps not owned by the two giants of the sector, Apple and Spotify…” As with video, the audio space is on track to being dominated by “the giants”. And this acquisition is further amplifying that consolidation of power. 

The bigger the share of the market these giants gain, the less control the individual publishers have over their content (and their future). From high service fees and demonetization to forced user attrition, publishers’ bottom lines will be squeezed in this sector. For publishers to thrive in the 2020s they will need to invest dramatically in audio, and the next 12 months will prove critical to this. If publishers don’t act now their audio platforms will be dictated by tech giants and they’ll fail to monetize this avenue effectively. 

The innovative, digital-first publishers are already seeing the opportunity for audio (Re: NYT Acquiring Audm) and are investing now in audio platforms to pivot their digital revenue into one of the industry’s fastest-growing areas.

This is the time to come together around a solution that puts publishers first. A solution built with the future of publishing in mind. One that prioritizes the accessibility of information from sources small and large. I strongly believe that’s exactly what we have built at Gyst Audio. So drop us a line on LinkedIn or Twitter, because I’d love to know your thoughts on this threat. Or alternatively, email me directly and tell me why you think your current plan is good enough.