The podcast deal-making continues.
The Locked On Podcast Network, the sports-focused podcaster launched by radio veteran David Locke, has agreed to sell itself to Tegna. The television station owner had already been targeting the podcast market with the launch of its Vault Studios two years ago.
Terms of the deal were not immediately released.
Tegna’s Vault Studios has primarily been focused to date on true crime content in order to leverage the stories its local television stations have covered through the years. Vault Studios has released eight podcasts to date. Tegna’s deal to acquire Locked On will allow Vault Studios to capitalize on the sports teams Tegna has local TV broadcast rights for in 51 markets nationwide, which can be paired up with Locked On’s team-specific podcasts for each of the NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL franchises as well as more than 30 college sports programs.
“Local communities are at the heart of what we do, and nothing brings communities together like local sports. That’s why we’re very pleased to welcome Locked On to Tegna,” said Tegna CEO Dave Lougee in a statement. “We look forward to growing the Locked On network through collaboration with our local stations, including the potential for video simulcasts of shows, and further increasing distribution, engagement and monetization of these fan favorite podcasts.”
Locked On produces 160 podcasts, most of which release new episodes daily. The company says it publishes more than 600 podcast episodes each week, generating eight million listens a month. Locked On said its podcasts were downloaded more than 80 million times in 2020.
“With local stations in many of America’s largest professional and college sports markets, joining the Tegna family was a natural fit as we seek to grow our audience and expand our offerings,” said Locke in the announcement. “We’re excited to begin our next phase as we work with Tegna on new innovations that will enhance our value with our loyal listeners and help us reach new sports fans across the country.”
Locked On will continue to operate as a standalone business within Tegna. And Locked On’s management team, including CEO David Locke and Chief Operating Officer Carl Weinstein, will join Tegna as part of the deal. It is expected that current contributors will also continue to provide content to Locked On. Tegna said it will finance the acquisition through available cash on hand.
Locke, who is the Utah Jazz play-by-play announcer, launched the Locked On Podcast Network in 2016 with the Locked On Jazz podcast. But Locke’s background is in sports talk radio. He worked as a program director at sports “1320 The Fan” KFNZ Salt Lake City for several years. He then moved to Seattle to work at sports KJR (950) for eight years. While he was there, he also became the Seattle Sonics play-by-play voice. But when that gig ended, he returned to Salt Lake City to become the play-by-play announcer for the Utah Jazz NBA franchise.
In 2019 Locked On raised $750,000 from a group of strategic investors led by former Disney Interactive Media Group CFO Bruce Gordon, the podcast investor Podfund, and Utah-based Summit Capital. It also received the largest investment to date from Podfund, which will recoup its investment in the Tegna sale.