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Podcasting’s data rules get a refresh

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Podcasting’s data rules get a refresh

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Hello! I am very excited to see so many of you at Hot Pod Summit and On Air Fest this week. I’ll be back on Tuesday with a recap of the events. But first, I’ve got a look at the layoffs at WAMU, the IAB’s new podcast guidelines, and the ticking clock on union contract negotiations at Spotify.

WAMU shuts down DCist and lays off 15 staffers

Another NPR member station has conducted layoffs, this time at WAMU in Washington, DC. While some public radio organizations have addressed budget shortfalls by cutting podcasts (NPR, WNYC), WAMU is leaving its audio operation intact as it lays off 15 staffers and shuts down DCist, the local news website it bought five years ago.

“With the renewed focus on delivering audio-first storytelling, WAMU made the decision to sunset the site and social channels. An archive of the website is being made available to staff to support their professional pursuits,” reads a statement from the organization.

Although the decision is being framed as part of a new strategy that doubles down on live events and audio, it is unclear whether any new audio roles are being added. Currently, the only WAMU job available is for a director of development. 

As is happening across the digital media industry, DCist is no longer available to the public. When you go to the website, a pop-up appears that automatically directs you to WAMU, and DC residents are understandably unhappy that the archive has been removed from the public record. A spokesperson from WAMU did not respond to Hot Pod’s request for comment.

The IAB issues new podcast measurement guidelines

The organization that sets podcast measurement standards has issued new guidelines, which address some of the data issues that have cropped up in the past few years. The new rules, which are not final yet, would require certified companies to be more transparent about their measurement methodologies than in the past.

Ad companies, which have shied away from podcasting in the past year, “want transparency in how these calculations are done,” Shailley Singh, EVP of product and COO of the IAB Tech Lab, told Hot Pod. “So we try to achieve that by giving more and more detailed guidance.”

Podcast companies certified by the IAB, which include NPR, Acast, and Megaphone, among two dozen others, will be expected to take steps such as filtering out duplicate podcast downloads from Apple Watches, specifying whether they measure on a fixed or rolling 24-hour period, and having practices in place to account for large technological shifts. That last guideline has particular relevance given the massive decrease in downloads across the industry resulting from a change in the way Apple iOS 17 handles automatic downloads. 

The IAB Tech Lab is accepting public comment on the new guidelines until March 23rd. You can view the document here

Gimlet and The Ringer’s union contracts expire on Thursday

Two of Spotify’s three podcasting unions are running up against contract deadlines this week. Gimlet and The Ringer, which are both unionized with the Writers Guild of America, East (which also represents Vox Media’s union, of which I am a part), are butting heads with Spotify management over contract details such as pay and severance. The negotiations come at a time following widespread layoffs in Spotify’s podcast business and when the company is being much more conservative about spending.

Members of the union for Gimlet, which has been hollowed out through staff cuts, have pledged to strike if they cannot come to an agreement with Spotify management. In a statement, the union demanded “compensation that keeps pace with inflation, and in light of multiple layoffs at Spotify Studios, a more transparent and dignified approach to staff reductions.” Yesterday, Gimlet’s union posted on X that they have not seen movement on either issue. 

The much larger Ringer Union has not yet issued a strike pledge, but the group is also struggling to get Spotify to agree to its requests on AI use, layoff notices, and pay increases. The union posted on X yesterday that Spotify management offered a 2.7 percent increase for the first year of the contract, followed by 2 percent annual raises for the following years. “We won’t accept below inflation pay rises from a company that’s worth as much as @Spotify,” the union said.

Neither Spotify nor the WGAE responded to request for comment.



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