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February 14, 2023

Companion Podcasts Take Fandom to New Heights

By Pineapple Street Studios Staff

When you’re hooked on a TV show, you can’t get enough. You swap theories with friends, follow stars on social media, rewatch episodes, and search for insider info. Now, that devotion is driving one of podcasting’s hottest genres: Companion podcasts. As companions to hit TV shows, these podcasts help superfans delve deeper and build human connections with their favorite stories, cast, and creators.

“These fans don’t want their favorite shows to end. They want extra details about the show, and they want to know why decisions were made. They want their questions answered,” explained Bari Finkel, head of operations at Audacy’s Pineapple Street Studios, an early pioneer in fandom podcasts.

The latest and greatest in fandom

Creators and stars are drawn to fandom podcasts for the human connections it builds with their fans. Our newest companion shows deliver on that promise. We’ve created podcasts for two iconic shows: “Interview with the Vampire Podcast,” tied to AMC’s new series, and “The Official The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power Podcast,” which is devoted to Prime Video’s first season of the hit show. As the official podcast partners, we get exclusive access to show creators and stars.

On the “Interview with the Vampire Podcast,” host Naomi Ekperigin, a comedian, actor, and self-described vampire enthusiast unpacks each episode, interviews cast, crew members and vampire experts, and digs into a big moral question.

For Lord of the Rings fanatics, “The Official The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power Podcast,” features host Felicia Day, a J. R. R. Tolkien aficionado, interviewing the stars and creators, and weaving in show Audio. In the final episode, the showrunners sat down for their first media interview to unpack the series. That’s the kind of access our listeners crave — and we can deliver as official partners.

Podcast fandom keeps growing

Podcast enthusiasts are rapidly making audio an essential part of their lives. More than half of podcast listeners consider themselves medium to heavy podcast users, listening to six or more shows a month. One-quarter said they listen daily. Gen X and Millennials make up about 70 percent of listeners, and the younger listeners are more likely to trust podcasts than other listeners and actually enjoy ads.

PODCASTS’ GROWING APPEAL

PODCAST FANS SPAN AUDIENCES

TRUST IS SKY HIGH

Millennials +45% more likely than avg adults to trust podcasts

WE’RE A-OKAY WITH PODCAST ADS

Gen Z +72% more likely than avg adults to enjoy podcast ads

What makes fandom podcasts fabulous

These ingredients create an audience of super listeners, and fandom podcasts take that relationship to new heights. Fans are hungry for exclusive details from writers, producers, stars, and influencers. 

“Fans want to dive deep and get answers from definitive sources. They want to engage with a story and details,” said Gabrielle Lewis, Audacy’s Pineapple Street Studio’s Executive Producer of TV and Film Podcasts.

Fantasy, sci-fi, thrillers, and historical fiction TV shows lend themselves well to companion podcasts. We’ve created fandom podcasts for a diverse group of hit TV shows, including HBO’s “The Chernobyl Podcast,” and “Succession”.

When we create a companion podcast, the focus is always on the fans. With fandom podcasts, engagement is everything. You need to grab your listeners’ attention and earn their precious time. The best shows feature these essential ingredients.

A passionate audience
It all starts with a TV show that boasts loyal, passionate, and committed fans who will devote the time to listening. It doesn’t have to be the biggest audience, but they must be ravenous and enthusiastic.

An engaging host
A host can make or break a podcast. The best hosts are inviting, engaging, and speak with authority. A fandom podcast host is devoted to the show and the subject matter and also deft enough to conduct interviews and guide the conversation. Sometimes, that’s an actor or creator, but it can also be a curious and passionate podcaster.  

Exclusive access
When you’re the “official” podcast partner, it lends credibility. We’re insiders and get access far beyond other media outlets. We can dig deeper, sharing exclusive interviews with stars and creators, show Audio, and behind-the-scenes tidbits. Our listeners can’t get that anywhere else. Our shows go beyond recapping and rewatch podcasts (although we love those too).  

Something extra
To stand out in the crowded podcast universe, we’re constantly innovating with features and formats. For example, to draw fans into the “Interview with a Vampire” podcast, we created a call-in line for fans to leave voicemails with their burning questions, then we included that Audio in the episodes. By involving fans in the show, we’re building deeper connections.

On our podcast for HBO Max’s Sex & The City sequel “And Just Like That…In the Writers Room,” the show’s writers reveal the backstory of each episode and offer exclusive insights. The writers are the stars, which is an unusual twist.

Show us a hit TV show with dedicated fans, and we can leverage the power of Audio to drive connections with passionate audiences and deepen engagement. Just bring us the stories, and we’ll do the rest.

Want to talk more about reaching your target audience?

Let´s Talk
SOURCES

2022 Winter MRI-Simmons US

Nielsen Scarborough Research, Market/Release: Podcast Recontact Study (Listeners only) 2022 Release 1 Total (November 2022), Base: Total Adults 18+ Projected: 66,094,488 Respondents: 47,926

Nielsen Scarborough Research, Market/Release: Podcast Recontact Study (Listeners only) 2022 Release 1 Total (November 2022), Base: Total Adults 18+ Projected: 66,094,488 Respondents: 47,926; Daily listeners listen everyday; Weekly listeners listen 6+ times a month; Monthly listeners listen 1-5 times a month

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