SiriusXM acquires Roman Mars’ 99% Invisible and a bigger stake in the podcasting world
SiriusXM, a company still best known for its satellite radio stations, is acquiring podcaster Roman Mars’ company 99% Invisible Inc. for an undisclosed sum. Mars and his team will join the company under Stitcher, the podcasting company Sirius acquired last summer.
Mars and the team will continue to host and produce the popular 99% Invisible show, as well as other shows like What Trump Can Teach Us About Con Law. They’ll also create new shows under Stitcher with that programming being available across platforms, including Sirius’ own Stitcher, Pandora, and SiriusXM apps.
In an interview with The New York Times, Mars said he wanted to escape growing “administrative duties” while also giving his staff more resources. Meanwhile, Megan Liberman, head of talk and entertainment programming at SiriusXM, said the move would help Sirius attract more podcast talent.
“We want the best creative talent that’s out there to know that we are a friendly home for them,” she says.
The competition for big-name talent is immense. This acquisition joins a growing list of independent networks and production companies being bought by larger tech platforms. Amazon bought Wondery last year while Spotify acquired Gimlet Media, Parcast, and The Ringer in 2019 and 2020. Sirius’ radio competitors, like iHeartMedia and Audacy, have also built up their podcast content arsenals: iHeart inked deals with a variety of creators and bought an ad tech platform, and Audacy previously acquired Cadence13 and Pineapple Street Studios, along with its own ad tech, too.
Although independent podcasters can now, more easily than ever, record and publish their own shows, they’re vying for ad dollars alongside well-funded tech companies. Some have found success with listener subscriptions on platforms like Patreon, and companies like Apple are looking to build those subscriptions into their apps. However, as more platforms look to build proprietary distribution apps, podcasters’ administrative and management efforts add up and become a bigger job.