Fox's Departing International TV Chief Founds Podcast Companyby
Hernan Lopez oversaw Fox's international TV channels
Lopez says on-demand audio will steal share from live radio
Hernan Lopez, who left a job this week running 350 international TV channels for Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox Inc., will build a podcast network, anticipating that an on-demand market will develop for audio dramas and talk radio, as it has for music and TV.
Lopez will produce scripted and unscripted podcasts through a new company, Wondery, which he founded and will run, the executive said in an interview. The company has more than $1 million to work with, including money from Lopez and from Fox, and plans to release its first batch of shows by summer.
Podcast listening has increased 40 percent over the past two years, Lopez said, as the proliferation of mobile devices and changes to in-car technology have made it easier and more attractive to tune in to the latest episode of “Serial’’ or “The B.S. Report.’’ This has attracted investment from General Electric Co., which is producing a science-fiction podcast, and Graham Holdings Co., which owns podcasting network Panoply and bought a stake in its peer, Gimlet Media.
“Americans spend 3.5 hours with audio every day, second only to TV,’’ said Lopez, whose first job was at a radio and cable company in Argentina. “All that time is moving in only one direction: mobile and on-demand. It’s the first time that one technology can be in the hands of virtually everybody around the world.’’
To attract advertisers, Lopez has partnered with ART19, a San Francisco-based company that can use its technology to dynamically insert commercials that target listeners based on their location and time of day.
“Monetization in podcasting has been held up by antiquated technology,’’ said Sean Carr, chief executive officer of Art19. “With targeting, measurement and back catalog advertising, our technology will provide Wondery with the tools it needs to sell major brands.’’