Ossa Podcast Industry News | July 1, 2020 | Podcasting Goes to Hollywood

Cadence 13 Launches C13Features, New “Hollywood Movie” Podcast Creation Studio

Cadence13, a leading creator of premium on-demand audio entertainment, has announced the launch of a new podcast studio called C13Features that they’re co-creating with Endeavor Content. Think of C13Features like a movie studio, but for audio content instead of video — aka “movies for your ears”.

Each C13Feature will essentially be the audio version of a feature film — a fictionalized story with a beginning, a middle, and an end with high production value, all wrapped up into one podcast episode. Each C13Feature will be roughly the length of a feature film — between 90 minutes to 2 hours — and span across a range of genres — from thrillers to drama to comedy.

Cadence13 to Launch Groundbreaking “C13Features” Podcast Studio (C13Features image credit: Curt Courtenay/Cadence13)

Another aspect that will keep this new project in sync with its Hollywood film counterpart is C13Features’ plan to bring on movie stars and prominent actors to voice key roles, as well as their plan to partner with film directors and other creative talent.

Chris Corcoran, chief content officer and founding partner of Cadence13, says in the press release on Variety.com: “We want to create a brand new lane of storytelling and build a brand new type of listening experience.”

The aim of the venture, they say, is to bring “a traditional Hollywood blockbuster movie creative approach to construct audio features at scale”.

Corcoran wants C13Features will serve as an “IP incubator” — creating programming that can be spun off into movies or television shows. Clearly, Corcoran and Cadence13 has been paying attention to Hollywood’s increasing investment in the podcasting space, with podcasts such as Slow Burn and Homecoming getting purchased to become television shows.

Chris Corcoran, Chief Content Officer, Cadence13 and Executive Producer, C13Features (Courtesy/Cadence13)

C13Features is transparent about the end goal of their one-episode, original scripted features: to create franchises similar to those that have had great success for major film studios. By getting their audience invested in the characters and storyline, C13 hopes that many of the scripted features in their new venture will expand into multiple seasons, with listeners hooked with eager anticipation of possible sequels and spinoffs.

So, here’s the burning question — could you get the same satisfaction out of an audio version of a story like Jurassic Park or Kill Bill or Bridesmaids? How much would a script need to be custom-designed for audio consumption versus the script that would be used in a film, when so much non-verbal storytelling is also available?

Many TV shows, like Dateline and Locked Up Abroad, have repurposed their made-for-TV programming as podcasts in recent years, and—at least in these instances—I rarely find myself missing the visual component. However, trying to achieve the storytelling power of feature films on audio may be a whole different can of worms.

With podcasts covering such a wide range of content, you may not have even noticed that, until now, long-form, fictional storytelling has been more or less absent from the podcasting space. Podcasting has already proven to be a powerful medium for nonfiction storytelling, interviews, and news, and “talk radio” type content–but we’re still discovering so much of podcasting’s untapped potential.

So that leaves us with this question: Did podcasting naturally gravitate away from long-form fictional storytelling because it’s just not the place for it? Or have we been overlooking a very lucrative opportunity for podcast usage this whole time?

There may be a semi-obvious contributing factor to Cadence13’s decision to bring audio to Hollywood: good ol’ coronavirus. The COVID pandemic has put a major damper on Hollywood’s ability to produce new feature films, and on top of that, movie theaters are basically a no-go for all of the foreseeable future. With filming at a minimum or even a standstill, there’s a lot of unemployed talent in Hollywood looking for projects — and podcasting offers some major advantages that the movie business does not.

First of all, producing podcasts is relatively simple and inexpensive when compared to producing feature films. Win-win. Secondly, podcasts can be recorded remotely or with each voice actor in an individual booth. This drastically minimizes or eliminates the risk of transmission that filming a movie on set would entail.

Third, we’re still at a point in the U.S. where Coronavirus is still very much a thing, and no one can really know when people will safely be able to go back to work and be out and about like the good ol’ days. There are lots of things we can’t do — but we can still listen to podcasts.

Data suggests that podcast listenership has stayed strong, ever since an initial dip in listenership back in March when everyone was far too overwhelmed by massive lifestyle changes and generalized fear to stick with their regularly scheduled programming. Basically, investing in podcasts right now is a safe bet.

Cadence13Features may even be thinking of scooping up some unproduced Hollywood scripts originally destined for the big screen to adapt them for audio. Stay tuned to find out how this new development unfolds.


Podcast Ad Revenue Shows Growth in 2020 Despite Reduction in Overall Media Ad Spending

Speaking of how podcasts are crushing it right now, a new forecast of 2020 ad spending by Borrell Associates shows podcasting and streaming audio as the only segment of media that it says is on pace to see revenue growth this year. The firm estimates that total podcast industry revenue will climb 1% this year. That may not sound like much, but consider just how many businesses and industry segments have taken a massive hit this year. For example, the same study projects a 6% drop in overall digital ad spending.

That being said, the podcast industry is certainly not immune to the negative impacts that coronavirus has taken on production, the economy, and marketing budgets. The industry’s projections for podcast advertising growth in the first half of 2020 had been far greater than what it has turned out to be. In an earlier report, Borrell had forecasted that in total, streaming audio revenue would grow by 17% this year. And while it’s possible that we’ll make up for lost growth during the second half of 2020, it certainly seems like a long shot at the moment.

There is one thing in particular that has helped the podcast industry stay afloat during COVID: the number of small and medium-sized businesses that report purchasing more digital audio advertising since the onset of COVID-19. Borrell’s survey found that 17% of these advertisers had increased their podcast and streaming audio ad spending in recent months.

Even more exciting news is the study’s report that 7% of the small and medium-sized businesses surveyed said they had bought their first-ever podcast and streaming audio ads during the pandemic. With so many businesses suffering revenue losses and budget cuts, they had to find economical ways to keep reaching their target audience and maximizing their ROI. Podcast advertising presented the perfect solution.


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