Podcasters Look Beyond DTC Into Licensing

Within the licensing business, podcasters primarily play a role as licensees, pairing with owners of licensed properties to create new audio productions. The podcast producers see licensed IP as a way to capture new audiences, while the licensors typically view the medium as another way for consumers to experience their properties and another touchpoint to raise awareness.

A growing number of original podcasts are becoming brands in their own right, however, expanding outbound into other forms of media and into merchandise. To date, the products have mostly been available through branded direct-to-consumer e-commerce shops, often residing on the podcasts’ home page, or third-party on-demand platforms.

Recently, a few podcast properties have started to enter into licensing deals as a means of extending their brands, resulting in merchandise that is available at retail. Wondery’s Wow in the World, a children’s science podcast, paired with Thames & Kosmos in January for a line of science toys, for example, while MrBallen and his podcast (and YouTube series) Strange, Dark & Mysterious paired with Ten Speed Press for a graphic novel. These follow on the heels of a few other examples over the years, such as when Team Never Quit (TNQ), a podcast started by former Navy Seal Marcus Luttrell, partnered with PNW Arms and Sinterfire for a line of ammo in 2015, which is still on the market.

The rising pool of well-promoted DTC merchandise sites tied to popular podcast brands is likely a precursor to more licensing deals. Here is a sampling of a few of many examples, some new and some longstanding:

  • The Wealth Champs introduced its merchandise line in June 2023. Products include t-shirts, socks, shorts, and hats. In the podcast, founder Julius Hammond interviews successful business leaders, influencers, and social activists, especially those who have built brands from nothing.
  • Hailie Jade’s Just a Little Shady launched its first merchandise, including t-shirts, jogging pants, hats, sweatshirts, and stickers, in May 2023. In the podcast, Jade and her best friend Brittany Ednie discuss their lives, including the experiences they had as children with Jade’s father, rapper Eminem (a.k.a. Slim Shady, the inspiration for the podcast’s name).
  • Wendy Williams’ The Wendy Experience, a podcast that debuted in 2023, began selling a line of merchandise in December 2022 in anticipation of the launch. The range consisted of t-shirts, sweatshirts, and caps featuring some of the former talk show host’s famous phrases, in a pink and black color palette. The podcast is no longer being produced due to Williams’ health struggles, but the shop is still live.
  • Call Her Daddy, the long-running comedy and advice podcast that was first distributed on Barstool and later on Spotify, has long marketed a line of merchandise. Many of the products are limited editions and include street-style t-shirts, tank tops, and hoodies, phone accessories, backpacks, mugs, posters, and other items.

In most cases, these and other similar merchandise programs are more about promoting the podcast than generating revenue, although the latter is certainly an objective as well. The promotional product arrays tend to be limited and basic and many of the designs rudimentary, focused on logos and text phrases. It will be interesting to see how many podcast brands follow in the footsteps of Wow in the World; Strange, Dark & Mysterious; TNQ; and others and look to licensing as a means of raising the bar on their merchandise game.

, , , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.