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This audiobook studio turned The Martian into an international success

Welcome to my weekly roundup of media industry news. If you want more content like this in your inbox, sign up for my newsletter at this link:

Ok, let’s jump right into it:

Why it’s interesting: You probably remember The Martian as a Matt Damon film, but a studio that specializes in adapting self-published ebooks into audiobooks is what put the story on the map.

Why it’s interesting: Wow. The Athletic managed to get to 1 million paying subscribers during a pandemic when virtually no sports were being played.

Why it’s interesting: Looks like The New York Times paid $25 million for Serial Productions, which is more reasonable than the original $75 million price tag that was floating around. At the end of the day, it’s only produced three seasons and one spin-off podcast in six years.

Why it’s interesting: NPR has great content and a great brand. Some of its current struggles can be traced back to its governing structure, which forces it to be a radio-first organization.

Why it’s interesting: I’m glad someone finally made this point. Tech journalists focus solely on the most highly-engaged Facebook posts to create a narrative that conservatives pundits dominate Facebook. But that data is highly misleading.

Why it’s interesting: In 2018, Snapchat was on the ropes. Instagram had successfully copied its Stories feature. Users were fleeing. And its publishing partners were unhappy. Flash forward to today and publishers are generating huge audiences and good revenue on Snapchat.

Why it’s interesting: An interesting piece about how The New York Times had to adapt its entire process for reviewing books so that it could be done outside of the offices. Not an easy thing to do when your previous process relied on the delivery of physical books.

Why it’s interesting: “Teenagers with as few as 10,000 followers on a platform have talent managers now.”

Why it’s interesting: This is a bigger deal than you might realize. Video recordings of podcast interviews have proved enormously popular on YouTube. In fact, several major YouTubers have two separate channels for their podcasts: one for full episodes and one for short clips.

Why it’s interesting: I think one of Substack’s biggest innovations was they made the platform completely free to use. Tinyletter offered that, but only for the first 5,000 subscribers. Also, Tinyletter just stopped innovating.

Why it’s interesting: There’s a YouTuber who’s built up 1 million+ followers and an entire career by making videos exclusively about…slime.

Why it’s interesting: It may soon become just as easy to advertise on Hulu as it is to buy ads on YouTube. That’s a pretty big deal in terms of how much it could expand Hulu’s advertising base. Self service ads are what made Google and Facebook so successful.

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