How Acast became the global independent power source of podcasting
Acast opened up for business in the US just over four years ago. As I look back on our journey from opening several new countries across the globe to recently going public, I thought I’d share with you a little more on how our entry into the US has helped us become a truly global podcast business.
Acast is the #3 largest podcast network in the US. More than 14 million Americans listen to podcasts powered by Acast every month. In fact, if you compare those numbers with Podtrac’s ranking of the top US podcast publishers, Acast would be sitting pretty in third place in the US — close behind NPR and iHeart, and ahead of the NYT, Wondery (now a Jeff Bezos company) and NBC.
We are the home of 28,000 shows and their creators, who have chosen Acast as the platform to grow and monetize their podcasts in the open ecosystem. While we’re seeing new creators joining us from all corners of the world, 25% of our shows are based in the US.
Our podcasters have a few things in common:
- They have ambitions to make their podcast more than just a hobby
- They want to have control over their listener relationships, not trade their audience relationships for distribution
- They don’t want to limit themselves to one listening app now or in the future
- They want the opportunity to make it on a global stage
- They want the possibility of earning money from subscriptions among their loyal fanbase as well as advertising
- They enjoy their independence just as much as we want to give it to them
Our creators are spread across 158 countries. That is pure organic, grass-fed growth (very healthy!). Of our 300 million monthly listens and growing, almost a third of listens currently take place in the US. The Olympics welcomes 206 nations so we still have a few to go. And we’ll be welcoming podcasters from a future Mars settlement and the International Space Station just as soon as they are ready.
Our global marketplace serves ads to podcast audiences in 175 countries. We make money for our podcasters not only based on the listens they’re getting in their home market, but from all over the world — inventory that would otherwise remain unsold. Global podcasters, such as news publishers and American creators with global audiences are already benefiting from Acast’s global operation.
We have paid creators $110 million so far. Creators are front and center at all we do at Acast, and we’re immensely proud that this is more payouts than any other podcast management platform.
So how did we get here?
Acast was born as a global idea. As a company founded in Sweden (with a population of 10 million modest souls) if your ambition is to define a new industry you have to think globally from the start.
Our early success in the Nordic countries and eventually on the British Isles is a well-established fact these days. For a long time, however, the American podcast industry often referred to us as a European-focused business. Yes, we were founded in Stockholm and our share price (we just went public on the Nasdaq) is in Kronor. And, yes, we have boots-on-the-ground in the UK, Ireland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Germany and France.
That said, our growth outside of Europe has been the main driver of our success these past years. Our leadership position in Australia and New Zealand is clear and, during the height of the pandemic, we launched both Mexico and Canada to complete our North American campaign. Each of them are now thriving.
But the fact remains, the US is where we’re evolving and growing the fastest. Not despite being global, but because of it. And we’re just getting started.
What began in a basement in Stockholm is now a global operation spanning America, Europe and APAC. And our tiny startup crew in the US four years ago is now standing 70 people strong in offices (and remotely) from coast to coast — and growing rapidly.
We are for the creators. We are For The Stories.
Oskar Serrander is the Chief Operating Officer at Acast and is based in New York. He was born and raised in Sweden but these days holds dual citizenships and proudly calls himself Swedish-American. Follow him on Twitter @oskarserrander.