One of the promises of podcasting has long been that it would allow content creators to reach listeners wherever they are, whether it is Peoria, IL or Pretoria, South Africa. But it is only during the past few years that many of the biggest content studios have taken steps to export their content globally. This week Tenderfoot TV made the leap, announcing a partnership with Sonoro to produce a slate of multi-language podcasts. Cofounder Donald Albright says it was a logical extension as they looked at where Tenderfoot’s strategy needed to go to continue the kind of growth it has seen since it launched six years ago this month.
“Over the past nine months, we have been able to focus on what the future looks like and where we want to go and how do we see ourselves growing,” Albright says. “International audiences is definitely part of our strategy. Our strategy is to bring in more people want to be more inclusive and to tap into more stories, more talent.”
Tenderfoot will initially work on a trio of Spanish-language podcasts with Sonoro, beginning with this week’s launch of the Ciudad Mágica series and a true crime podcast called The Estate set to launch early next year.
“It will be a fun exercise for us to figure out how our marketing will be different, since we can’t just do a feed drop because our listening audience is English speaking,” Albright says. It means they will need to geotarget listeners in areas where bilingual consumers are more likely to be. But it also why they opted to be connected with Sonora, which already has reach into the Hispanic market. “It’s not going to be entirely in Spanish,” Albright says. “The three shows that we're doing with Sonora will have Spanish and English components.”
The first step that a lot of podcasters usually take in another language is a translation of one of their hit shows. Albright says watching Wondery take shows like Dr. Death around the world was one of the things that opened his eyes to the international potential. But initially, he says Tenderfoot’s focus will not be on its back catalog.
“I want every audience to be able to experience To Live And Die In L.A. and Up and Vanished, but I also know that it's even more important for me to find those countries’ stories and bring our storytelling style to their country and tell their story,” Albright says. “What we’re looking for is how do we find an authentic story that can be told in both English and Spanish, where you find a host that speaks both languages, and can host the project in both languages.”
Albright also thinks it was important to partner with another creator that knows the marketplace well. “I want to be able to listen to something and say whether it is good or not, and when you don’t speak the language and you don't have the ability to do that, you have to have trusted partners that can,” he says.
Beyond the Spanish-language market, Tenderfoot is also developing another international project with iHeartMedia that will drop in a European country in both English and the local language – although he says they don’t expect to release both versions simultaneously.
Even as Tenderfoot explores the global marketplace beyond English, Albright says the studio is also reaching listeners in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the U.K. with its English versions. The home of podcasts such as Radio Rental and The MLK Tapes currently gets about five percent of its downloads form outside the U.S.
One of the questions that Tenderfoot’s overseas ventures with Sonoro and iHeart will demonstrate is just how big the money-making opportunity is for U.S. content studios beyond their borders. While Albright is optimistic there is one, he acknowledges that it may take some time to develop – and he’s okay with that.
“We’re trying to understand if it’s something that’s actually going to make money, or if we’re planting the seeds in hopes that one day it will bear fruit. I think the jury is still out, but there’s enough upside there that it’s worth the risk. It’s worth trying,” he says. “We want to put our quality stamp on projects that aren’t specifically for U.S. audiences, and our hope is it’ll be appreciated by international audiences and they’ll want more of it. Hopefully, we’ll be early, and not late, to the game.”