Pocket Casts app acquired by NPR-led radio group, will continue development [Update]

Updated 5/9/18 – Following the announcement of the NPR deal, Pocket Casts has since addressed a few of the concerns its users have brought up. You can read through the full rundown here, but essentially Pocket Casts says that its privacy policy remains the same, it won't share/sell user data, give special treatment to NPR-owned podcasts, push ads on users, or track your location.

Pocket Casts, one of the best cross-platform podcast apps and my personal favorite, has been acquired by a group of public radio-focused companies headlined by NPR. The group, comprised of NPR, WNYC Studios, WBEZ Chicago and This American Life, is acquiring Pocket Casts in pursuit of synergy — after all, this group comprises some of the most popular podcasts available today, with hits such as This American Life, Serial, Radiolab and Planet Money.

The entire Pocket Casts team is joining the new group, and they are adamant that Pocket Casts will continue to operate and be improved. "Together we have the passion, scale and laser focus needed to achieve some truly great things," reads their blog post on the acquisition. "Nothing about the app is changing. Going forward our aim is to make it better, like we always have, year in, year out." The app will retain its paid model, and the pricing isn't going to change. This pretty much sums things up:

Going forward things are going to be different. We'll be moving faster, we'll be more ambitious in the things we do and we'll have some amazing insights from the top podcast producers in the world to help guide our future steps. I mean if you're not excited by that, then you're just not hooked up right.

The Pocket Casts app will remain focused on podcasts of all kinds, from every sort of creator around the world, and not simply turn into an app for these public radio shows from the acquiring group. NPR's existing app, NPR One, will also continue to be maintained. Former iHeartRadio General Manager, Owen Grover, has been named CEO of Pocket Casts.

The stated goal of the acquisition is to make podcasting better for everyone, both creators and listeners, through collaboration — not about selling the app and walking away. Pocket Casts has already garnered huge mind share and is synonymous with podcast listening for so many people — we can only hope that it grows and improves with the backing of this larger group.

Andrew Martonik

Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.