Shonda Rhimes Signs 3-Year Podcast Deal With iHeartMedia

TTelevision producer Shonda Rhimes has set her sights on new horizons. The creator of the hit ABC drama Grey’s Anatomy has signed a new podcast deal with the broadcast giant iHeartMedia.

Rhimes’ production company Shondaland and iHeartMedia announced the three-year deal on October 16, according to The New York Times. Under the newly launched division, Shondaland Audio, Rhimes will produce more than a dozen podcasts for the iHeartPodcast Network.

“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 cited by Variety.

She continued, saying, “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.”

“Katie’s Crib,” Rhimes’ weekly podcast on motherhood hosted by Scandal actor Katie Lowes, will move to iHeartPodcast under the new deal, The New York Times reported. Rhimes is also developing a new podcast about a first lady and another featuring comedian Ali Wentworth.

“Shonda Rhimes is one of the greatest storytellers of our time,” Conal Byrne, president of the iHeartPodcast Network, said in a statement to Variety. “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.”

Byrne told The New York Times that he expected Shondaland Audio to appeal to “an engaged, smart female audience” and “top tier, big, established brands” looking for podcasts to advertise their products. Shondaland Audio podcasts will have an average of four commercials per episode, he added.

Rhimes has produced and written a number of popular and enduring shows. She created Grey’s Anatomy, which has been on ABC since 2005, as well as ABC’s Scandal and How to Get Away With Murder.

In 2017, Rhimes signed a nine-figure deal, which included a base salary of about $150 million plus incentives, with the streaming giant Netflix. She later revealed that she planned to create eight shows for Netflix, including the upcoming series Bridgerton, Inventing Anna, and Notes on Love.

Rhimes told The New York Times in 2018 that she had two goals for her time at Netflix: create shows that were more expansive than those for ABC and turn Shondaland into a company that lives within Netflix for years on end.

“It would be really amazing to me at some point down the line — not now — if somebody said, ‘There was a Shonda for Shondaland?’” she said. “It needs to be bigger than me.”

Rhimes also said she would consider exploring a possible crossover between Netflix and her latest venture with iHeartMedia. Rhimes told The New York Times that “if the opportunity presents itself for some crossover with our friends at Netflix, we would certainly explore it.”

Podcasting is becoming increasingly popular among American listeners. A recent survey conducted by Edison Research found that nearly a third of Americans ages 12 and older, an estimated 90 million, had listened to a podcast in the past month. That number represents a steady rise from three years ago, when only 21 percent of Americans reported listening to a podcast in the last month.

The survey found that men continue to dominate the number of podcast listeners — 54 percent of monthly podcast consumers ages 12 and older are men while 46 percent are women.

Podtrac, which ranks top podcasts and podcast publishers, shows NPR is the leading podcast publishers both in the US and globally. NPR has 67 active shows and in September brought in more than 23 million unique listeners in the US and more than 151 million global streams and downloads.

iHeartRadio came in a close second. The company brought in more than 22 million unique monthly listeners in the US and over 147 million global downloads and streams last month. According to Variety, iHeartMedia acquired the podcast HowStuffWorks in 2018 for $55 million.

The company has various original podcasts, including Noble Blood, Chelsea Handler: Life Will Be the Death of Me, and Committed. According to Podtrac, the company currently has 268 active podcasts.

About the Author

Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various publications, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia and Australia.