Hit-making TV writer and producer Shonda Rhimes is jumping into the podcast game in a much bigger way.
Rhimes’ Shondaland production company announced a three-year pact with iHeartMedia to launch Shondaland Audio, which will produce a slate of original podcasts to be released as part of the iHeartPodcast Network.
Rhimes will oversee development and Sandie Bailey, Shondaland chief digital and design officer, will manage day-to-day operations for the new podcast company.
“Podcasting continues to see tremendous growth and I’m excited to partner with iHeartMedia as Shondaland expands its storytelling journey into this medium which has seemed to usher in a unique sense of boldness, intimacy and connection,” Rhimes said in a statement. “With iHeartMedia we aim to share stories that are engaging, insightful, and reflect a robust world-view while staying true to the authentic storytelling voice that has become synonymous with Shondaland.”
Earlier this week, iHeartMedia announced that it was creating a comedy podcast venture with Will Ferrell.
Rhimes and Ferrell join the growing wave of interest in cashing in on audio content, alongside the likes of Conan O’Brien, President Barack and Michelle Obama and Oprah. In the U.S., the number of weekly podcast listeners has more than doubled in the past five years, from 28 million in 2015 to 62 million in 2019, according to a study by Edison Research and Triton Digital.
Shondaland has produced TV series “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Private Practice,” “Scandal,” “How To Get Away With Murder,” “For The People” and “Station 19” for ABC. In 2017, the company signed a long-term exclusive deal with Netflix for a slate of originals, including upcoming series “Bridgerton,” “Inventing Anna” and “Notes on Love.”
In 2017, Shondaland launched website Shondaland.com and later dipped its toes into podcasting with “Katie’s Crib,” a weekly podcast following “Scandal” and “Waitress” actress Katie Lowes in which she shared intimate conversations about the joys, pains and hilarity of new motherhood with guests. New episodes of “Katie’s Crib” will be part of the Shondaland Audio slate next year.
“Shonda Rhimes is one of the greatest storytellers of our time,” said Conal Byrne, president of the iHeartPodcast Network. “We’re honored that she’s chosen the iHeartPodcast Network to extend her storytelling craft to audio, bringing a massive slate of new original podcasts to the world.”
In 2018, radio giant iHeartMedia stepped up its podcast push by acquiring HowStuffWorks for $55 million. The company’s ongoing slate of original podcasts include “Disgraceland,” “Chelsea Handler: Life will be the Death of Me,” “Noble Blood” and “Committed,” alongside more than 100 shows from its on-air radio talent like “Bobbycast” and “The Breakfast Club.” The shows shows are distributed on all major podcast platforms, including the iHeartRadio app, which hosts more than 280,000 podcast shows.