January 29, 2019. By Selina Chignall
NEW ORLEANS – In a world where technology is increasingly immersive and revolutionary, the humble podcast has managed to solidify its place as a ground for emerging talent and storytelling that can be ripe for broadcast.
In a session titled “Trendwatch: Podcast to Broadcast” at the 2019 Realscreen Summit in New Orleans on Monday (Jan. 29), a panel of individuals who work or represent those in the podcast space came together to share their thoughts about this new trend.
Those on the panel discussion included Donald Albright, co-founder of Tenderfoot TV; Stuart Coxe, president of Antica Productions; Marissa Hurwitz, agent at WME (pictured, left); and Brett-Patrick Jenkins, SVP of development at Propagate Content (pictured, right). The discussion was led by moderator Joseph Livecchi, CEO of Noble Savages.
Here are a few key takeaways from that panel:
Look beyond the top of the charts
Hurwitz said her advice to producers looking to find podcasts to adapt for broadcast should look beyond the top podcasts on Apple’s charts.
“I think that is where you’ll find that new, interesting IP – and not those just sitting in the top,” Hurwitz told audiences.
Additionally, talent in the podcast arena should take a step back and think through their overall strategy and the packaging of their work. Hurwitz used the example of the scripted and unscripted projects under the Dirty John moniker – based on the true crime podcast of the same name from American podcast net Wondery and the Los Angeles Times. The project ended up as two separate linear entities: as a scripted projection on Bravo, and as Dirty John: The Dirty Truth, a documentary that aired on Bravo’s true crime sister network, Oxygen.
Adaptation is not a one-size-fits-all model
There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to how much of the original podcast DNA should go into an adaption, said Jenkins of Propagate Content, the team behind the adaption of Aaron Mahnke’s horror podcast Lore for Amazon Prime Video.
Propagate and Tenderfoot TV produce the television series Up and Vanished, based on the investigative podcast of the same name, for female-focused network Oxygen. Jenkins said the series would be hard to roll out without Payne Lindsey, the podcast creator, as he drives the series point of view.
For other podcasts, however, it might be more of a discussion between the podcast creator and producer about their ambition and what the goal is of the adaptation.
“A lot of the times a straight adaptation… in my opinion, is not enough to excite the market and get the sale,” said Jenkins. “You need to find a way to excite the buyer, and hopefully for yourself, and your partners in the process.”
Podcasting offers franchise possibilities
Jenkins said that although Propagate works with partners and has access to an in-house team, he still spends time watching webisodes, YouTube, and scrolling through Twitter in an attempt to find new content. He said Twitter is where he came across Mahnke’s horror-focused podcast that has since been adapted by Propagate for Amazon.
“What is possible in the world of podcasts is unbelievable. I think you will continue to see bigger franchises happen,” he said.
He hypothesizes that networks, streamers and cable companies will invest more money in adaptations, which will bring new audiences to their platforms.
“It’s an enthusiastic and exhaustive search to find that next hit. We are always looking,” he added.
Off that point, Livecchi said producers have to put in the hours in searching for content, as it will help them find a “needle in the haystack.”