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Popular podcast app Stitcher is shutting down August 29th

Stitcher owner SiriusXM is pushing podcast fans toward its own premium streaming app.

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SiriusXM is shutting down the popular Stitcher podcast platform as it pushes audio fans toward its own subscription-based streaming service.

The announcement was made in an email to customers that said the Stitcher website and associated mobile apps will shut down on August 29 as SiriusXM focuses on building out its own streaming platform.

Officials at Stitcher thanked their loyal customers for more than a decade of patronage:

“Thank you for giving us the opportunity over the last decade to create the best possible podcast listening experience. The podcast ecosystem would not be where it is today without listeners like you.”

Stitcher launched in 2008 as a way for podcast fans to follow, organize, download, and stream their favorite audio shows.

In many ways, Stitcher was ahead of its time, offering users the ability to subscribe to shows straight from their smartphones and tablets, at a time when most people were still using iTunes and similar software to sync podcasts between devices.

Stitcher has traded hands multiple times: It was acquired by French streaming music service Deezer in 2014, only to be sold to a media firm that would be acquired by the E. W. Scripps Company for a mere $4.5 million.

Stitcher has done more for podcasts than you’d think

A person is using a stapler to attach a piece of paper to another piece of paper. Full Text: STI CHER K
Image: Stitcher

Scripps built Stitcher into a powerhouse app — the one that most users are familiar with today — and invested in producing more podcast content that found popular appeal with listeners.

There is a good chance you’ve heard a Stitcher-produced show without realizing it. Some of the shows produced or distributed by Stitcher’s various content studios include:

  • Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend (Earwolf)
  • Freakanomics Radio (WNYC)
  • Nerd Machine’s Picking Favourites
  • Rotten Tomatoes Podcast
  • The Three Questions with Andy Richter (Earwolf)
  • WTF with Marc Maron (Midroll Media)

In 2020, SiriusXM acquired Stitcher for $325 million. There are three primary reasons why SiriusXM was willing to spend so much money for a podcast platform:

  • Growth: For about two decades, SiriusXM focused squarely on its satellite radio service, which offers commercial-free music streams and premium news, sports and talk content from coast to coast. But over the last few years, SiriusXM’s satellite radio growth has started to stall — it has held relatively stead at just north of 30 million subscribers over the last few years — and that forced SiriusXM to start looking for new business opportunities elsewhere. As more consumers shift toward streaming, podcasts seemed like a natural next step.
  • Technology and data: Rather than start from scratch with a podcast product of its own, SiriusXM smartly acquired Stitcher, which allowed it to immediately collect data on the types of shows and features that resonated the most with podcast fans. Using that information, SiriusXM has quickly incorporated these same shows and features into its own, SiriusXM-branded streaming app.
  • Business opportunities: Rather than relying on satellite radio as its sole source of income, SiriusXM now has multiple businesses that pull in different kinds of revenue in different ways. For instance, its acquisition of Pandora and investment in SoundCloud allows SiriusXM to earn cash from streaming music subscribers; likewise, its purchase of Stitcher gave it a wealth of content that is supported in large by advertisements, and allowed it to start its own digital-focused advertising network, which has proven to be a significant revenue generator for the company.

As for the Stitcher app itself, SiriusXM has largely left it alone. The app received a user interface upgrade and recently began offering some SiriusXM subscribers free access to Stitcher Premium, but that’s mostly it. 

Now, SiriusXM appears to be going all-in on its own streaming radio app as the future of its direct-to-consumer podcast business.

The company recently announced it would completely overhaul its streaming app, and it is anticipated that some of the best Stitcher features will move over to the SiriusXM app when it does.

What does that mean for Stitcher fans? Unfortunately, the Stitcher platform and related apps won’t be available after August 29.

Therefore, this means podcast listeners will need to move over to SiriusXM — which requires a subscription — or stream and download podcasts on alternative platforms from that day forward.

Stitcher Premium subscribers will have their plans canceled before then, except annual Premium subscribers, who will receive a prorated refund.

Some alternative podcast apps and platforms that offer similar functions to Stitcher include:

Stitcher users who want to bring their favorite shows to a new podcast app can export a list of their followed shows as an OPML file, which can then be uploaded to a supported service like PocketCasts or OverCast.

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Matthew Keys is an award-winning freelance journalist who covers the intersection of media, technology and journalism. He is the publisher of TheDesk.net and a contributor to KnowTechie, StreamTV Insider (formerly Fierce Video) and Digital Content Next. Matthew is based in Northern California.

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