In May 2018, Pocket Casts was acquired by NPR, WNYC Studios, WBEZ Chicago, and This American Life. That consortium of “top podcast producers” is now looking to sell the Android, iOS, and web application.

First reported by Current last week, NPR’s latest financial statement reveals how the owners “met and agreed to sell Pocket Casts, the sole asset of Podcast Media” last month. Currently, the “plan of sale is still in development,” but the divestiture is expected to be complete by September 2021. NPR, which owns just over a third of Podcast Media, reported that its share lost $812,129 in the past year.

The app was originally acquired to “[further] public radio’s leading role as an innovator in audio discovery and distribution, while ensuring the continued support and growth of one of the most popular listening platforms on the market.”

Meanwhile, the original Pocket Casts developers agreed to the deal, which they considered a partnership, given the shared vision between them and the new owners:

Going forward things are going to be different. We’ll be moving faster, we’ll be more ambitious in the things we do, and we’ll have some amazing insights from the top podcast producers in the world to help guide our future steps.

Pocket Casts dev team, 2018

Pocket Casts 7.0

Since then, Pocket Casts has undergone two big changes. The first was a Material Theme revamp that exited beta in March 2019 after four months of testing. Some users were critical of this redesign given conceptual changes to how the app functioned.

Six months later, the app went free after previously costing $3.99, while a $9.99/year Pocket Casts Plus tier was introduced for access to the desktop (Mac, Windows, and web) apps, Apple Watch support, more themes/icons, and cloud storage to upload your own content.

This sale of Pocket Casts comes as Google, Apple, Spotify, and Amazon are all making big investments in the podcasting space. The latter three companies have or are rumored to be working on paid subscription offerings. We’ve reached out to Pocket Casts on what this sale will mean for end users.

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Abner Li

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