Ariel Emanuel, CEO of the entertainment conglomerate Endeavor – the parent of talent agency powerhouse WME – sees podcasting as playing a growing part of their focus on content and personalities. And despite reports that some of the streaming television services are pulling back on their show developing, he says their portfolio of companies – which also includes the mixed martial arts organization UFC and events and media company IMG – is not feeling any pinch.
“Premium content continues to be in huge demand, whether that be sports rights or movie or television or podcasts,” he said. “On the podcast side, we have made very high-end deals right now across all the different players. Endeavor is a proxy for content growth and a barometer for overall content, not only in movies and television, and it’s going up across the board. We are not feeling any decrease in the spend. The only way to keep people engaged in their platforms is through movies, television -- and if it’s the streamers podcast or sports rights.”
During a conference call with investors, Emanuel said the evidence that demand for top talent remains robust is the deal that their WME negotiated for sports personality Stephen A. Smith who recently launched the No Mercy podcast with Cadence13. The series launched in August, and it returned Smith to the audio space for the first time since his syndicated ESPN Radio show ended in January 2020.
Endeavor Group Holdings reported it had $1.2 billion in revenue during the third quarter. The company also reported a $12.5 million loss during the quarter tied to its minority stake in the college sports media company Learfield IMG College. “Our business performed well in the quarter despite an increasingly turbulent macro environment,” Emanuel said.
While Endeavor does not break out how much of that came from podcasting, Emanuel said they are making “significant overall deals” that benefit not only the company, but also talent. But he also said the podcast deals are as complex as anything they strike with the streaming television services. “They are complicated deals on who gets the revenue mix on advertising, etcetera, and how you are structuring those deals,” he told analysts.