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ViacomCBS (VIAC) Inks 3-Year Podcast Deal With iHeartMedia

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ViacomCBS (VIAC - Free Report) recently announced signing a three-year contract with iHeartMedia (IHRT - Free Report) .

Per the deal, ViacomCBS’ Entertainment & Youth Group — which comprises MTV, Comedy Central, Paramount Network, Smithsonian Channel, Pop TV, CMT, VH1, TV Land and Logo — will collaborate with iHeartMedia’s podcast group to create a series of original podcasts.

The shows will include both new original podcasts and ones based on ViacomCBS’ brands, and will cut across genres including music, comedy, pop culture and history.

Moreover, ViacomCBS E&Y and iHeartMedia will work together on distribution, marketing and advertising sales, with iHeart leading on the ad-sales front.

Slated Podcasts and Audio Content Lineup

As part of the initial slate of programs, Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Trevor Noah will expand its library of content by producing additional, original podcasts from the show’s correspondents.

Moreover, an audio reboot of MTV’s Yo! MTV Raps — the classic cable TV program that launched in 1987— will be the reimagined for a new podcast series. While the hosts may play some old clips, it is likely to be a completely new show representing current artists and issues.

These shows will join two existing podcasts from Comedy Central, the first one being The Daily Show with Trevor Noah: Ears Edition. The show was launched in 2018 and featured episode highlights and extended interviews that ViacomCBS says has delivered more than 170 million downloads to date.

The other is The Daily Show: Podcast Universe, launched last year, a five-episode miniseries in which each segment parodies a popular podcast or genre.

Intensifying Competition in the Podcast Space

ViacomCBS is working to expand into the rapidly growing podcasting industry, following similar moves by media and tech companies including Spotify (SPOT - Free Report) , SiriusXM (SIRI - Free Report) and Apple.

Notably, all ViacomCBS audio series under the deal will be distributed through the iHeartPodcast Network and available on iHeartRadio, and also will be available on major podcast platforms including Apple’s podcast app, Spotify and Stitcher.

This Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) company’s deal follows Sirius XM’s purchase of podcast hosting and distribution company Simplecast, which works with clients like Netflix. This was followed by the acquisition of Stitcher podcasting platform in August. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Meanwhile, Spotify has spent approximately $700 million on podcast-related acquisitions in the past 18 months, including its buyout of Anchor FM ($154 million), Gimlet Media ($195 million) and Parcast ($55 million) last year alongside Bill Simmons’ sports podcast, The Ringer (around $196 million) in the first quarter 2020.

In July, Spotify spent $100 million on locking an exclusive deal with the Joe Rogan Experience, which was Apple’s biggest audio podcast on its platforms last year. Spotify is also releasing localized versions of Sandra, Gimlet’s scripted podcast series from 2018, in four non-English speaking markets, Brazil, France, Germany, and Mexico.

Moreover, Spotify recently signed contract with Kim Kardashian West to produce podcast content and also announced that it has partnered with AT&T's Warner Bros. and DC Comics to produce & distribute an exclusive original slate of narrative scripted podcasts about super heroes and super villains such as Batman, the Justice League and Birds of Prey, among other familiar superheroes.

In February, iHeartMedia announced turning some of its popular podcast series into books. In 2018, iHeartRadio acquired Atlanta-based podcast publisher, Stuff Media for $55 million.

Nonetheless, we believe that iHeartMedia’s partnership will help ViacomCBS to expand its popular shows and IP into hit franchises worldwide through iHeart’s wide distribution and availability across a number of leading platforms.

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