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Seeking Bigger Voice For Hispanics, MundoNow Inks Podcast Deal With iHeart.

MundoNow, the bilingual and bicultural digital media platform, is teaming up with iHeartMedia and its My Cultura network in a collaboration that CEO Rene Alegria says will not only grow its reach but also amplify Latino voices in podcasting. Under the deal, iHeart will distribute podcasts that are part of MundoNow's audio network Oyénos. But more importantly, the two Hispanic podcast networks will jointly move into the advertising market, in a partnership they see as a way of growing the segment’s share of marketing dollars.

“Our expertise really lies in our experience with connecting content that Hispanics really gravitate to. And a digital platform through MundoNow – we are not equipped to sell audio. That requires a whole different infrastructure,” Alegria said. “Working with iHeart certainly is going to give us a leg up to monetizing our content for Hispanics going forward.”

Since its launch in February 2023, Oyénos has tripled in size, averaging 1.5 million downloads per month – much of which has come during the past six months. Its show roster includes series that touch a wide range of subjects, from true crime and astrology to news and current events.

In an interview, Alegria credited a “bootstrapping” of their audio expansion with helping to make their network profitable while bigger podcast companies have yet to reach that goal. He also cited the brand’s social media reach. “We have 16 million Facebook fans that certainly helped generate many more podcast downloads than then if we were really starting from scratch,” Alegria said.

More Shows, Including Some Not In Spanish

Beginning today (March 26), 20 Oyénos shows will be available via iHeartPodcasts, with another 10 joining by June. As it expands, Oyénos looks to tap into the various experiences of a population segment that while growing, is also becoming more diverse with some second and third-generation Latinos not even speaking Spanish.

Alegria said reaching bilingual and bicultural listeners is core to their strategy, whether it is producing shows in Spanish, English or Spanglish. How each of the languages perform in their genres will help guide their growth. While a majority of existing Oyénos shows are in Spanish, they have five on deck in Spanish and three that are English-only.

As part of the iHeart alliance, Oyénos podcasts will be promoted on the radio as well as during My Cultura podcasts with similar demographic appeal, beginning in April. Alegria said that the large amount of promotional inventory that iHeart was willing to devote to the alliance is why MundoNow signed with the broadcaster even as it was being courted by four others last fall.

“We are excited to integrate Oyénos Audio into our iHeartPodcasts network including collaboration with our My Cultura network, continuing our effort to bring more diverse voices and content to our listeners and serving the needs of the Latin community,” said Michael Biondo, President of Business Development and Strategic Partnerships for iHeartMedia. “Oyénos offers quality content that resonates deeply with bilingual and bicultural audiences, and we look forward to providing them the reach and accessibility our multiplatform and assets have to offer,” he said in a statement.

Could Radio Be Next?

The partnership comes as digital media consumption habits continue to evolve with monthly podcast listenership among Latinos increasing by 52% since 2022 according to Edison Research. That is nearly four times faster than the rate among the general U.S. population.

For now, MundoNow is happy sticking with a digital focus although its partnership with the biggest radio group could open broadcast doors down the road. “There's no plan unless they're tied in with our current step forward with podcasting,” Alegria said. “But as we roll out our cross-promotion with iHeart, there might be opportunities to help support our shows with a radio slot.” He pointed out that some of their podcast hosts were radio personalities in their native countries.

MundoNow’s growing embrace of audio comes at a time when some other much larger media brands have retreated. But Alegria said he hasn’t had any doubts about their podcast strategy as they have watched industry developments during the past year. Instead, he said it has affirmed their commitment to the Hispanic category with subject experts and without relying on actors, athletes, and other big names that have cost millions of dollars often without producing many downloads.

“At the end of the day, we don't have $100 million to spend on celebrities, we can’t make that mistake to begin with,” Alegria said. “We just had to be smarter at publishing. And that's how it's worked for us.”

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