LAS VEGAS — The steady rise in listenership for high-end podcasts is opening up a host of opportunities for creatives in the comedy arena, director-producer Paul Feig and internet star Lele Pons told CES attendees on Wednesday.
Feig, the multihyphenate behind “Bridesmaids” and other hits, invoked the era of great radio dramas thriving as theater of the mind during a panel session with Spotify chief content officer Dawn Ostroff at Variety‘s Entertainment Summit at the Consumer Electronics Show.
Pons, known for her comedic internet videos, cut a deal late last year with Spotify to create podcasts for the platform.
“I haven’t been this excited since I did my first YouTube video,” said Pons, who has 15.6 million subscribers to her namesake YouTube channel.
Podcasts can make it possible for creatives to pursue ideas that would be challenging or expensive to shoot in a visual medium. “I have a sci-fi comedy epic that I want to do but it will be expensive,” Feig said. “Maybe I’ll do it as a podcast like an old radio drama, and that could lead to it being a movie or TV show.”
Feig is already producing what he calls a “true crime comedy podcast” for Spotify dubbed “The Case of Adirondack Rose.” The boom in the podcast sub-genre of true crime podcasts is ripe for comedic touches. “Once there’s a language for something we can have fun as comedy people subverting and changing up all that,” Feig said.
Ostroff, who joined Spotify last year after leading Conde Nast’s digital efforts for seven years, said she sees big potential for podcasts as IP incubators.
“It’s another way to have a pillar that is significant in building a brand,” Ostroff said. She added that Spotify is working on efforts to “really elevate the level of advertising business we can do in podcasting.
Feig was asked by Variety‘s Todd Spangler about the prospect of his beloved 1990s NBC dramedy “Freaks and Geeks” having some form of reunion via podcast. Feig created the series, produced by Judd Apatow, that featured a cast of future all-stars including Seth Rogen, James Franco, Linda Cardellini and Jason Segel.
Feig seemed intrigued by the idea but made no commitment. That didn’t stop Ostroff from putting down a marker on the project should it ever come to fruition.
“If you decide to do ‘Freaks and Geeks’ as a podcast, we’ll do it with you,” she said.