Bubble Fears, Old-Guard Acquisitions, and Audible: This was 2018 in Podcasts
Twenty Eighteen. What kind of year has it been? When I sat down to plot this column last Tuesday, a few words popped to mind: busy, chaotic, confusing. Frankly, I’m not sure how I’ll remember 2018 down the line, but I have some ideas of a few things that’ll stick.
I. Perhaps the most pronounced public narrative of the year — which is to say, the story that spread far outside the community — revolves around the late summer shake-ups at a few particularly public podcast companies. I’m talking, of course, about Panoply’s divestment from the content business (and subsequent termination of its editorial division) as well as BuzzFeed’s move to lay off its audio team, both of which happened almost simultaneously in September. Those two developments deepened a fledgling paranoia that had been seeded a month before, when Audible moved to restructure its original content strategy and abruptly phased out the group responsible for its shorter-form podcast-style programming.