Doubling down on the podcasting business, iHeartMedia reached a deal to acquire podcast pioneer Stuff Media, which includes the HowStuffWorks podcasting business and a slate of 25 podcast shows, for $55 million.
A source familiar with the deal confirmed the price, first reported by the Wall Street Journal. Reps for iHeartMedia declined to provide financial details of the transaction. Stuff Media has about 50 employees, who will join iHeartMedia.
In March of this year, iHeartMedia filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization, with a debt load of around $20 bilion. In June, John Malone’s Liberty Media pulled its $1.16 billion bid to acquire 40% of iHeartMedia.
The iHeartMedia bid to acquire Stuff Media is subject to bankruptcy court approval. Stuff Media raised a $15 million financing round in 2017 led by the Raine Group. Discovery previously owned HowStuffWorks and sold it to Blucora in 2014 for $45 million, after previously buying it for $250 million in 2007; Blucora then sold it to digital-ad company System1 before it was spun off as Stuff Media last year.
The deal solidifies iHeartRadio’s position as the No. 1 commercial podcast publisher worldwide, according to research firm Podtrac. Overall, it’s second only to NPR.
Currently, iHeartRadio, whose primary business is terrestrial radio broadcasting, has partnerships with major podcast publishers and distributes more than 20,000 podcasts including those from NPR, WNYC, ESPN and Gimlet. In addition, the iHeartRadio Podcast Network hosts more than 750 original shows.
Atlanta-based Stuff Media was originally founded in 1998 as a reference site, HowStuffWorks.com, which became one of the first companies to turn podcasting into a revenue-generating business. Currently Stuff Media’s podcasts garner more than 61 million global downloads and streams per month, with signature podcast “Stuff You Should Know” surpassing 500 million downloads this year.