Pocket Casts has a new owner. Automattic, which runs WordPress.com and recently acquired Tumblr, announced today that it has acquired Pocket Casts, the reputable podcast app. The blog post announcing the purchase did not give much in the way of a preview, but it plagued potential future integrations.
“As part of Automattic, Pocket Casts will continue to provide you with the features needed to enjoy your favorite podcasts (or find something new),” the post said. “We will explore building deep integrations with WordPress.com and Pocket Casts, making it easier to distribute and listen to podcasts.”
Pocket Casts was launched in 2010 and sold to NPR and a group of other public media groups eight years later. It has been well received, especially from sites like The Verge, because it is available across platforms. It began monetizing a program called Pocket Casts Plus, which charges users a monthly subscription fee for features such as access to the desktop app and a standalone Apple Watch app, in 2019.
Pocket Casts was originally sold in January after the board of members of the public media voted to do so. The app, which is free to download, lost money, and NPR reportedly lost $ 800,000 dollars on it last year. We have contacted Automattic for a comment on how it plans to make money on the app, as well as to learn more about whether it keeps all Pocket Cast employees full time. We will update if we hear back.
Interestingly, the Spotify-owned app Anchor announced a partnership with WordPress.com in February this year, which lets people turn blog posts into audio content with a few clicks. Although the feature relies on text-to-speech technology, which is not as personal and human as, well, a real human being, the broad idea clearly speaks to WordPress’ interest in helping bloggers communicate through podcasts.
It will probably continue to build on that vision with the Pocket Casts acquisition. Although Pocket Casts is a listening app, it is also known for its discovery features and cure. It is possible that Automattic can push people against content from WordPress users.