Warner Bros. Discovery Partners with Spotify for Podcast Distribution and Monetization

Warner Bros. Discovery is partnering with music streaming platform Spotify for a new podcast distribution and monetization partnership across the legacy entertainment company’s portfolio of brands.

Spotify’s enterprise podcast platform, Megaphone, will host and distribute Warner Bros. Discovery’s slate of audio shows. Additionally, the music platform will serve as one of WBD’s podcast monetization partners via the Spotify Audience Network.

WBD’s podcasts include CNN’s All There Is With Anderson Cooper, CNN’s Chasing Life With Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s The Assignment With Audie Cornish, HBO’s The Official Game of Thrones Podcast: House of the Dragon, HBO’s Succession Podcast, TCM’s The Plot Thickens, and WBD Sports’ The Steam Room, among others.

Podcasts from HBO, Max, CNN, CNN en Español, Bleacher Report, WBD Sports, Adult Swim, Turner Classic Movies Network, and truTV will be hosted and distributed via Megaphone. Over the past 12 months, advertiser participation has grown more than 45% while opted-in publishers have increased more than 70%, according to the companies.

Cineverse Launching Bloody Press to Publish Audiobooks, E-Books and Print

Cineverse Nov. 16 announced plans to expand the company’s revenue-generating opportunities in audio and publishing with the launch of Bloody Press.

Under the direction of the Bloody Disgusting team at Cineverse, Bloody Press will focus on creating and bringing audiobooks, e-books and print editions to market. The division’s first title, an adaptation of 2022’s theatrical hit Terrifier 2, will debut in February 2024. It will be penned by Tim Waggoner (author of the best-selling Halloween Ends novelization for Universal Pictures) and will be available in all of the above formats.

The company also plans to follow with novelizations of the original Terrifier and of the upcoming Terrifier 3, launching day-and-date with next year’s theatrical premiere of the latter on Oct. 25, 2024.  A collectible three-volume set is expected to then be available for the holidays.

“From the theatrical success of independent films such as Terrifier 2, to the triple-digit growth at Screambox, two years since acquiring the streamer, we have amassed a strong track record in horror,” Erick Opeka, president and chief strategy officer, at Cineverse, said in a statement. “Tom Owen, Brad Miska and the entire Bloody Disgusting team have not only shown the ability to identify and develop great horror content, but also to drive new revenue for the company overall, across every medium, including audio, consumer products, and now publishing.”

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Cineverse is also bowing two podcast premieres in summer 2024 — a Terrifier podcast and “Dead Space: Deep Cover,” based on the Dead Space video game (produced in conjunction with Electronic Arts).

The podcasts follow the successful Oct. 31 bow of the podcast “The Dead,” from Bloody Disgusting and The George A. Romero Foundation, which quickly entered the Top 10 on Apple’s podcast charts in the fiction category.

Cineverse Podcast Network Announces New Scripted Audio Series ‘Dead Space: Deep Cover’ in Collaboration With Electronic Arts

Cineverse June 15 announced that its multiplatform horror brand, Bloody Disgusting, will produce a new scripted podcast series titled “Dead Space: Deep Cover” in cooperation with video game publisher Electronic Arts.

Based on the “Dead Space” video game series, the podcast’s storyline is set in the universe of the survival horror franchise known for its intense gameplay and atmospheric storytelling. The games and this year’s remake garnered critical acclaim for their immersive mechanics, and innovative features like strategic dismemberment, and dark, suspenseful narrative.

In Dead Space: Deep Cover, a journalist searches for her sister, who reportedly joined a local Unitologist church. As she delves into the mysterious world of this church, she uncovers internal conflicts, strange customs and the personal sacrifices she must make to reunite with her sister.

The podcast will be written by Ben Counter, a sci-fi writer known for his work in the “Warhammer 40,000” franchise. Counter has written more than a dozen novels, his own original podcast “Out of Place,” and has worked on Cineverse podcasts, including “SCP Archives” and “Mayfair Watchers Society.”

Tom Owen, managing director of Bloody Disgusting/Cinedigm, said podcasts have experienced an “explosive surge” in recent years, which he said has opened up opportunities for untold stories waiting to be crafted into a scripted audio series.

“Collaborating with a company like EA has brought us access to an incredible IP, and we are thrilled to bring this podcast to fans of both horror and gaming,” Owen said in a statement.

Bloody FM has a growing lineup of audio shows that are part of the Cineverse Podcast Network. With more than four million monthly downloads, the network’s 25 horror podcasts, both fiction and non-fiction, cover everything from the sinister anthology Scare You To Sleep to the Stephen King-inspired The Losers’ Club to SCP Archives Presents, which dives deep into the darkness of the internet’s most amazing stories.

The company’s most popular podcast Creepy, receives more than a million monthly downloads alone and gives voice to urban legends and horror stories primarily posted online. The Bloody Disgusting Original Podcast “Mayfair Watchers Society” has been named one of the most popular podcasts of 2022 by Apple and finished the year as a top 50 show and the top 1% most followed podcast on Spotify in 2022.

Apple TV+ to Stream Four-Part Doc on Soccer Great Lionel Messi, Bows New Podcast Trailer

Apple TV+ June 6 announced a new untitled four-part documentary series featuring exclusive behind-the-scenes access to global soccer superstar Lionel Messi. The series filmed in Paris, Qatar and Argentina, tracks the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner through his five FIFA World Cup appearances and his FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 win.

In his own words, Messi tells the story of his career with the Argentina national football team, providing an unprecedented look at his quest for a legacy-defining World Cup victory.

The filmmakers followed Messi throughout the Qatar World Cup, from the venue’s training grounds to the chaos of press junkets to the quiet contemplation of Messi’s private room. The series highlights a mash-up of the public and private worlds of the planet’s top living athlete as well as that of his loyal supporters across Argentina and those who made the pilgrimage to Qatar.

The series also features interviews with Messi, alongside conversations with teammates, coaches, competitors, fans and commentators testifying to the incredible influence and impact he has on a nation and the world throughout his career.

The docuseries charts his first match with the Argentina national football team where he was shown a red card in his first minute, to carrying the weight of a country on his shoulders through several elusive World Cup wins, leading to his early retirement in 2016, and ultimately the comeback to become a FIFA World Cup champion and be crowned the 2022 tournament’s best player.

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Separately, Apple TV+ revealed the trailer for new Apple Original podcast, “Under Cover of Knight.” In 1996, Sue Knight was found dead in her Athens, Texas, home. Her will named a loose acquaintance as the executor of her estate, but after an alleged phone call from the CIA and a dire warning from the local sheriff, the executor stopped asking questions. More than 25 years later, Sue’s memory haunts the town of Athens and the people who knew her. Who was Sue, really? Why did this English expat settle in small-town Texas? And could she still be alive?

New podcast episodes will debut weekly, beginning June 12, with the first two episodes, on Apple Podcasts and via RSS at apple.co/UnderCover.

“Under Cover of Knight” joins a growing offering of Apple Original podcasts now streaming on Apple Podcasts, including DuPont-winning “The Line,” Webby Award-winning “Wild Things: Siegfried & Roy,” Webby-nominated “Hooked,” “Project Unabom,” “Operation: Tradebom,” “Run Bambi Run” and “Missed Fortune.” Apple TV+ also offers official companion podcasts for Apple TV+ series, including Webby Award-winning “The Problem With Jon Stewart,” “Foundation,” “For All Mankind,” “Little America: The Official Podcast” and the docuseries “The Big Conn.”

Parks: 85 Million U.S. Consumers Listen to Podcasts Weekly

New research from Parks Associates shows that upwards of 85 million adult U.S. consumers say they listen to a podcast for at least one hour each week. The research study, Podcasting: An Exploding Market, examines the impact of the rapid growth in the podcast market, including household audio equipment adoption, consumer behaviors across various platforms and genres, and crossover effects with consumption of music services.

The report found that smartphones are the most commonly used device for listening to podcasts and YouTube is the leading app/website used to access content. Almost half of podcast listeners are 35 to 44 years old. Notably, podcast listening declines for ages 45 and older, indicating that content creators are overlooking this audience segment, according to Parks.

“Audiences self-select to listen to specific content, and the most popular means to discover new podcasts is through recommendations by friends and family,” analyst Sarah Lee said in a statement.

Lee contends that more than 60% of current podcast listeners pay some amount per month for a subscription, including 15% who report using the the Spotify Premium service.

“Since people often find new titles by asking people with similar interests, content creators will need to make extra efforts to attract a more diverse audience,” Lee said.

Cinedigm Announces Scripted Horror Podcast Series

Cinedigm announced that its multiplatform horror brand Bloody Disgusting will co-produce a new scripted audio series titled “The Dead,” with the George A. Romero Foundation.

“The Dead” will tell new stories that take place in Romero’s Night of the Living Dead universe, expanding on the characters and activities from the long-running movie franchise. The 24-episode podcast will feature a full cast and be entirely scripted. It will be distributed as part of the growing Cinedigm Podcast Network, and everywhere podcasts can be found.

Artwork Design by Andrew Tremblay

Writers will be chosen to pen the stories following an application process through which the George A. Romero Foundation will select the best candidates. The Bloody Disgusting team will then work with the selected writers to produce stories.

“Our goal with this project is to introduce and support a new generation of horror writers who are influenced by George, while honoring and preserving his legacy through socially conscious horror,” Tom Owen, co-founder of Bloody Disgusting, said in a statement.

Suzanne Desrocher-Romero, founder and president of the George A. Romero Foundation, said the “unique model” opens up new opportunities for writers and encourages their creative spirit.

“Under the guidance of Bloody Disgusting, I know that the final stories produced will entertain us all,” said Desrocher-Romero.

Bloody FM, powered by Bloody Disgusting’s “Bloody FM” features a growing lineup of audio shows that are part of the Cinedigm Podcast Network. With more than 4 million monthly downloads, the network’s 25 horror podcasts, both fiction and nonfiction, cover everything from the anthology Scare You To Sleep to the Stephen King-inspired The Losers’ Club to SCP Archives Presents, which dives deep into the darkness of the internet’s most amazing stories.

The company’s most popular podcast, Creepy, receives more than 1 million monthly downloads alone and gives voice to urban legends and horror stories primarily posted online. The Bloody Disgusting Original Podcast “Mayfair Watchers Society” has been named one of the most-popular podcasts of 2022 by Apple and finished the year as a top 50 show and the top 1% most followed podcast on Spotify in 2022.

Hub: Streaming Video Among Top Mass Transit Content Choices

Streaming video is one of the key content choices for consumers while traveling on mass transit, according to new data from Hub Entertainment Research.

When traveling by mass transportation, streaming video captured the attention of nearly 50% of all commuters, according to the study.

Still, Hub found that while digital options are increasingly important, legacy media such as broadcast radio still dominates for those driving a car. 

The results are based on a November 2022 survey of 2,566 U.S. consumers.

“Traditional radio is surprisingly resilient in the car, where it has been king for many years,” David Tice, senior consultant to Hub and author of the study, said in a statement. “But we see digital media — particularly streaming music and audio services — have made great inroads into the media habits of commuters and travelers, which is likely to continue as in-car integration and access during other travel modes becomes simpler and cheaper.”

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Aside from over-the-air (OTA) and satellite radio, digital content makes up three of the top five media sources used by drivers: paid streaming music services, free streaming music services, and personal music downloaded onto smartphones or tablets. Lesser used in-vehicle digital media include podcasts and audiobooks.

Users of mass transit (buses, trains, subways, ferries) use a number of digital media options along with OTA radio. Similarly to cars, personal music and free/pay streaming music services are in the top five used on mass transit, but so are free streaming video services.

Almost two in three drivers (63%) say they use OTA radio “every” or “most” times they drive, with one in six listening to an OTA simulcast via streaming. An OTA radio is the media device most likely to influence choice of a new car, with 39% saying they’re more likely to buy a car if it has an OTA radio, compared with runners-up satellite radio (31%) and Apple CarPlay (27%), the latter showing consumers desire for aggregating media services overall. 

Music and talk radio (sports, politics, or other) are more likely to be consumed when someone is driving.  Audiobooks and podcasts — perhaps because they command more attention — are somewhat more likely to be used by those riding mass transit. News and weather are equally likely to be used in both scenarios.

On airlines, the medium most often used are books (37% of flyers use them “every”/”most” times they fly), with personal music collections ranking No. 2 (33%). 

This Week’s MPN Podcast: ‘Bullet Train’, ‘Murder at the Vanities’ Reviews; Weekend Box Office Report

On this week’s episode of the Media Play News podcast, hosts Charles Parkman and Charlie Showley discuss the review of Bullet Train by John Latchem. The hosts have been ribbing this feature since its trailer released months ago, and now that it’s come to physical media is it really as bad as they think it was?

Following that is a review by Scott Marks for Murder at the Vanities, a whodunit thriller from the 1930s that Charles saw long ago in film class. The hosts comment on the early days of cinema and traditional stage actors having to adapt for the camera, because as is mentioned in the review, the murder mystery in Vanities is incredibly obvious to the viewer.

Over the weekend, the latest film in the “Halloween” franchise’s reboot Halloween Ends took the No. 1 spot, followed by the seasonally appropriate horror movie Smile and family friendly movie Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile.

Halloween Ends undershot analyst expectations for revenue (grossing $41 million at the domestic box office over the weekend instead of the projected $49 million) but still performed impressively considering it’s available to stream for free on Peacock. Charlie hasn’t visited theaters in a while, but opened the show talking about his viewing of the seedy Danish crime movie Pusher 2, which he described as “a hardcore version of Trainspotting, already known for being a hardcore movie.”

This Week’s MPN Podcast: ‘Cobra Kai,’ ‘Paravision Dreams’ Reviews; Weekend Box Office Report

On this week’s episode of the Media Play News podcasts, hosts Charles Parkman and Charlie Showley turn back time to the 1950s and cover Scott Marks’ reviews for Sangaree, Those Redheads From Seattle, and Jivaro. What’s interesting about these films is they were shot in 3D, which was a brief craze in the so-called “Atomic Age” some 50 years before it popped up again a decade or so ago. Those Redheads From Seattle, as it turns out, has a claim to fame as the first 3D musical. Also covered is John Latchem’s review of the latest season of “Cobrai Kai” on Netflix, yet another fun excursion to a universe where karate street fights are a fun, everyday occurrence.

At the box office, The Woman King exceeded its projected opening, yet overall the close of the summer continues to be devoid of any blockbusters. Pearl and See How They Run debuted to just over $3 million each. It will be interesting to see what happens when the theatrical release of bigger movies picks up again.

HBO Max’s ‘Batman: The Audio Adventures’ Podcast Returns for Season Two on Oct. 7

HBO Max Sept. 14 announced that its Webby Award-winning original scripted podcast “Batman: The Audio Adventures” is returning for a second season on Oct. 7. Premiering only on Max, all 10 episodes will drop simultaneously.

The season two podcast finds a seething cauldron of crime and corruption about to boil over. While The Joker remains at large, criminal kingpins and former rivals The Penguin and Two-Face have combined their villainous might — and the mysterious narcoterrorist known as Scarecrow remains unidentified, even as his chemical nightmares plague the city. The schism between Batman and Catwoman grows ever larger as both escalate their separate wars on crime, threatening dire consequences for both. And former doctor or something Harleen Quinzel is living for a love that’s slowly killing her, just waiting for inspiration to strike.

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“Batman: The Audio Adventures” season two is the latest in HBO Max’s growing slate of podcasts and joins recent HBO Max podcasts such as “The Official Game of Thrones Podcast: House of the Dragon,” “Chat Sh!t: The Official Rap Sh!t Podcast,” “The Wire at 20,” and more.

The podcast is written and directed by Dennis McNicholas (“Saturday Night Live”) and features a cast including Jeffrey Wright, Seth Meyers, Chris Parnell, Rosario Dawson, Bobby Moynihan and John Leguizamo, among others, lending their voices to the program.