Did you miss a session from the Future of Work Summit? Head over to our Future of Work Summit on-demand library to stream.


Pandora is expanding into podcasting. This morning the music streaming company announced an exclusive partnership with the popular podcast Serial.

Starting November 24, Pandora will have all of Serial Season One available for streaming. Unfortunately for fans, there’s still no word on when Season Two will emerge.

Serial is a spin-off of the radio program This American Life, and chronicles a nonfiction story over the course of an entire season. Its first season investigated the death of Baltimore teenager Hae Min Lee as well as the conviction of Lee’s ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed. The program exploits a classic radio format—the crime story—and has done so with great success.

The second season is hotly anticipated, and Pandora is wise to ink a deal.

Podcasting is on the rise. New-media outlets like BuzzFeed, the Verge, and even old-guard publications like the New Yorker are all fiddling with their own audio shows. Additionally, notable radio stations and hosts are increasingly getting behind digital audio projects. And so are investors. In 2014, radio host Alex Blumberg’s podcasting company, Gimlet Media, raised $1.5 million in seed money.

While Serial has proven that audio programs can be as addictive as serialized long-form television, they still don’t have a robust audience.

“Only 17% of Americans listen to podcasts at all. That’s why it’s so exciting for us to work with Pandora. Pandora reaches millions of people who never listen to public radio or download podcasts. This’ll get our shows to them,” said Ira Glass, host of This American Life and advisor to Serial, in a statement.

For Pandora, the deal means content expansion. Though Pandora offers more than just songs and albums, this is the first time the company has ever streamed a podcast. Snagging Serial is also a competitive move against Spotify, which earlier this year introduced access to podcasts, news from Vice Media, video content from Comedy Central, and a whole slew of other partnerships in an effort to expand beyond music.

Pandora is still leading Spotify in terms of number of active listeners, but not by much. Pandora’s active listeners hover around 80 million, while Spotify has “over 75 million.” There are also newcomers to the streaming industry, like Apple Music, Amazon Prime Music, and rapper Jay Z’s Tidal, all of which are no doubt slowly nibbling away at Pandora’s audience.

To maintain its position, Pandora will need to both bring in more listeners and find new ways to keep its existing customers engaged. Exclusivity deals could help it do that, but it’s going to need more than one popular program to prove its worth to consumers.

VentureBeat

VentureBeat's mission is to be a digital town square for technical decision-makers to gain knowledge about transformative technology and transact. Our site delivers essential information on data technologies and strategies to guide you as you lead your organizations. We invite you to become a member of our community, to access:
  • up-to-date information on the subjects of interest to you
  • our newsletters
  • gated thought-leader content and discounted access to our prized events, such as Transform 2021: Learn More
  • networking features, and more
Become a member