Monday, May 23, 2022

SiriusXM To Acquire Conan O’Brien’s Podcast Company

Former late-night host Conan O'Brien sold his hit podcast, “Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend,” to SiriusXM, along with his Team Coco digital-media company and its network of 10 podcasts.

The Wall Street Journal reports terms weren’t disclosed. The deal, which comes with a five-year talent agreement with Mr. O’Brien, is worth an estimated $150 million, according to people familiar with the sale.

The acquisition is one of the biggest moves yet by Sirius in the competition among audio companies to lock in successful podcast producers and stars with loyal followings.

Along with O’Brien and all the ad revenue from his podcasts, Sirius is getting a respected comedy brand in Team Coco. Mr. O’Brien will produce a full-time Team Coco comedy channel for the company’s satellite subscription service.

“Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend,” a celebrity interview show launched in 2018, ranked 26th among all podcasts by weekly listeners in the first quarter of 2022, according to Edison Research. The show accounts for more than two-thirds of the 16 million monthly downloads for all Team Coco podcasts, the company said.

Team Coco’s podcasts, including O’Brien’s flagship show and an existing spinoff in which he interviews listeners about their jobs and quirks—“Conan O’Brien Needs a Fan”—will continue to be distributed across all major podcasting platforms.

The vast majority of Team Coco was owned by Mr. O’Brien, along with Chief Executive Jeff Ross, Mr. O’Brien’s executive producer throughout the run of his TV shows, according to people familiar with the company. The Sirius deal lets Mr. O’Brien capitalize on the creative and entrepreneurial freedom he discovered in the audio world after a 28-year run on the late shift for broadcast and cable TV networks.

Team Coco is named for the fans who rallied around O’Brien after his abortive stint on “The Tonight Show.” With the end of his “Conan” show on TBS in 2021, Team Coco transformed into an independent podcasting venture. The company’s slate grew to include podcasts hosted by Nicole Byer, Rob Lowe and J.B. Smoove, the licensing rights to which pass to Sirius.

Team Coco operates out of a Hollywood headquarters recently renovated by Mr. O’Brien to have two podcasting studios and a collaborative clubhouse feel. Its staff of roughly 50, now SiriusXM employees under President and content chief Scott Greenstein, will develop new comedy talent, podcasts and radio content for Sirius. Sirius had a special interest in winning the bid for Team Coco, which already had a distribution and ad sales partnership with Sirius’s podcasting unit Stitcher. Sirius acquired Stitcher in 2020 as it pushed into the podcast space.

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