• iHeartMedia is constructing a new NFT network for podcasts

  • iHeartMedia, the parent company of iHeartRadio, is investing several hundred thousand dollars in acquiring the rights to a dozen NFTs in order to launch a new NFT-based podcast network.

    It is one of the first major media brands to launch a podcast slate of characters and voices from various NFT collections.

    According to Khalil Tawil, EVP of strategy at iHeartMedia, iHeartMedia is now in talks to make 10–15 investments in significant NFT collections over the next few days, including CryptoPunks, Mutant Ape Yacht Club, and World of Women.

    • It’s also interested in the work of new NFT creators like Qurkies, CrypToadz, and Loot for Adventurers.
    • According to Conal Byrne, CEO of iHeartMedia’s Digital Audio Group, the plan is to integrate the IP from the different NFTs it acquires into a content collection dubbed the “Non-Fun Squad” universe. “We can create worlds for them, build storylines around them, and bring those stories to life through podcasts.”
    • The Non-Fun Squad’s first commercial manifestation will be a podcast network named “the Non-Fun Program Network,” which will contain a podcast slate centered on the Non-Fun Squad’s content, characters, and worlds.
    • The podcasts will be hosted by actors who play various NFT characters. Tawil stated that the business is only interested in NFT rights that will allow it to “commercialize and bring to life” the real NFTs it will purchase in podcast-friendly ways.

    As terrestrial radio listeners migrate to streaming, iHeartMedia has actively invested in expanding its podcast business. It has spent millions of dollars acquiring the rights to numerous podcasts and audio ad tech businesses. NFTs are the company’s next step in podcast development.

    “This is really pushing the edge to put the assumptions we have about what is IP, what is a host, and what is talent to the test,” Byrne said.

    iHeartMedia’s goal is to build a new layer of content by leveraging IP from numerous distinct NFTs under one umbrella.

    “There’s no genuine precedent for this,” Tawil explained. He points out that in the analog world, it’s difficult to blend characters from multiple realms, such as Marvel, DC Comics, and Warner Bros., without running into IP rights difficulties.

    In addition to providing iHeartMedia with NFT characters around whom to construct stories, Byrne says iHeartMedia intends to test five to ten of its existing podcast shows as IP for DAOs, a type of crypto-driven community.

    It’s yet another example of how media firms are attempting to introduce NFTs to the masses.

    Last month, Time Inc. produced its first-ever entire magazine issue, which will be available as an NFT.

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