The world of non-fungible tokens or NFTs are coming to podcasts as iHeartMedia today confirmed plans to build a slate of podcasts that leverage what is today cutting edge content but it believes will become an important source of stories for podcasters. The company released the first names from a growing list of NFTs that it has acquired to create a new NFT-based podcast network.
The IP universe and podcast slate will be created around iHeart-owned NFTs from both prominent NFT collections, including CryptoPunk #2821, Mutant Ape #10144, World of Women #7147 and #7730, as well as from emerging NFT projects, including CrypToadz #5947, Loot (for Adventurers) Bag #2020, and Quirkies #307 and #1988. In its announcement, iHeart says the additions are “dramatically extending the boundaries of innovation for audio content creation.”
The new NFT-based media franchise will be branded the Non-Fun Squad. Phase one of the Non-Fun Squad universe will be the launch of the Non-Fun Podcast Network, a podcast slate centered around the content, characters and worlds from the Non-Fun Squad.
The podcast game plan, details of which were first reported last week, is to unite NFT characters across products and given their own stories, narratives and personalities that will drive their interactions, creating a completely unique experience in the NFT, media and audio spaces.
“There is no real precedent for this,” said Khalil Tawil, EVP and Head of Strategy for iHeartMedia. “Web3 innovations offer an entirely new IP paradigm allowing us to combine the characters from different universes and projects without running into IP rights issues. These podcasts will be hosted by voices that portray the various NFT characters, and we are only acquiring NFTs that allow us to freely bring to life iHeart-owned NFTs in ways that work for podcasts.”
No launch date for the Non-Fun Podcast Network has been announced. And iHeart did not disclose how much it paid to acquire the various NFTs.
Non-Fungible Tokens are digital assets that link ownership to unique physical or digital items, such as works of art, real estate, music or videos. They are considered modern-day collectibles. NFTs are built on blockchain technology similar to "fungible" tokens such as Bitcoin or Ethereum; however, each NFT is unique and can be a one-of-a-kind "edition" or part of a limited drop which can be used as a digital proof of ownership or "certificate of authenticity."
As part of the digital expansion, iHeartMedia is also partnering with the cryptocurrency platform Anchorage Digital to serve as its custody solution as iHeart continues to build in Web3.
“These NFTs and podcast slate are just the beginning for iHeart’s exploration of Web3 and the Metaverse, and we are excited to be part of this cultural moment,” said Bob Pittman, Chairman and CEO of iHeartMedia. “By creating new opportunities for NFTs, we’re able to show our belief in, and support for, the creators, community members and artists in the Web3 space, and explore how NFTs, art and content interact together in the Metaverse in 2022 and beyond,” Pittman added.
The reach of iHeart -- from its 850 radio stations to its position as a top-ranked podcast distributor -- the company says it is also in a position to extend Web3 brands and platforms to the mass market where most consumers have yet to become aware of NFTs.
“We are the first company to use our expertise in podcasting, content production, live music and events to bring these characters to life -- and with our 90% reach of Americans every month, we are the only company able to promote and activate this innovative concept at scale and bring it to the mass market,” said Conal Byrne, President of the iHeartMedia Digital Audio Group. “With this initiative, we’re extending our Web3 and Metaverse strategy by building new experiences to entertain audiences across new and emerging platforms -- and giving our audiences compelling characters, stories and personalities that they’ll connect with.”