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IAB Podcast Upfront 2021 Highlights



  • Podcasts and podcast advertising will grow exponentially over the next two years
  • 30 networks presented their lineups over 3 days at this year’s Podcast Upfront
  • Podcasting continues to be a welcome medium for diversity and inclusion

If this year’s Podcast Upfront could be summarized in just two words, it would be: monumental growth.

Podcast advertising is predicted to grow as much in the next two years as it has in the last decade according to the 4th annual IAB U.S. Podcast Advertising report released during this year’s Podcast Upfront. Podcasting proved to be an incredibly resilient medium that managed to spike during the COVID-19 pandemic last year. 

This year the Upfronts had over 30 presenters across 3 days announcing new podcasts, plans, and hailing the power of the almighty podcast ad. 

Starting day one with NPR sharing their continued efforts to support diverse audiences and top-notch journalism, a theme of diversity, equity and inclusion flowed throughout, including a session from iHeart, LAist and WMN Media on the topic. The opportunities for media companies and content creators to elevate diverse voices through audio are endless and brands are starting to play a part. 

While there were too many to list, here are some of the many new and renewed shows that were announced last week:


  • A Word With Jason Johnson – tough, smart and surprising conversations about race In American politics and society, airs weekly
  • ICYMI (In Case You Missed It) – We’re online so you don’t have to be 
  • What Next – Daily fuel for the curious, airs daily 
  • One Year – An unexpected and unconventional look at years in American history. Season 1 launching June 8 (7 episodes) / Season 2 Launching November 4 (7 episodes)
  • Slow Burn Season 5 – “The lead up, the leaders, and the eventual fallout of the Iraq War.” 
  • Slow Burn Season 6 – “The 1992 Los Angeles Riots.” 

Cumulus Podcast Network

  • Politics of Food
  • Who Was Prince?
  • My World with Jeff Jarrett 
  • Debunked with Ben Shapiro 
  • Plus an all-female guest slate coming up on Bad with Money

SXM Media (Stitcher, SiriusXM, and Pandora) 

  • TK with Seth Rogen Podcast

Vox Podcast Network

  • True Story: First serialized investigative podcast from NY Magazine. Coming at the end of Summer.


  • A new season of Phil in the Blanks with Dr. Phil to launch in a few weeks


  • Behind the Desk: The Story of Late Night
  • Chasing Life

Meredith Corporation

  • Let’s Go Together Podcast (Travel + Leisure) – new season
  • PEOPLE in the ‘90s (PEOPLE) – launching June 3rd
  • SOUTHERN LIVING: BISCUITS & JAM Each week, Sid Evans, Editor in Chief of Southern Living, will sit down with celebrity musicians to hear stories of how they grew up, what inspired them, and how they’ve been shaped by Southern culture
  • REAL SIMPLE: MONEY CONFIDENTIAL – Financial situations with financial expert advice
  • PARENTS: THAT NEW MOM LIFE – a community for new mothers. Questions answered about postpartum life. Normalizing new mom experiences and assuring listeners that they are not alone. 
  • ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: WHAT TO WATCH – must see TV, Docs, and more.
  • PEOPLE EVERYDAY: Entertainment and Political news. Digestible and to the point. 

Wondery / Amazon Music

  • Rich & Daily
  • Little Stories Everywhere
  • Imagined Life Family
  • Melon’s House Party
  • Dr. Death – new season

The Roost

  • Gen to Gen (Gen Z and Gen X talk show breaking down current events). Launching later this year. 
  • The Real Housewives of Twitch. Behind the scenes and closer look into popular female twitch streamers personal lives. 
  • OT3 – New Fandom podcast – Observers of Tales, Truth and Trivia: OT3 explores the ins and outs of fandom from the fans that create content from it. 


  • Podcast from Metallica: 8 episode mini series about the black album (Metallica’s most famous album). How it got made and stories around the album. Band members are voicing all ads. Premieres in August.
  • Off Book: The Improvised Musical Podcast
  • Obscure with Michael Ian BlackComedian Michael Ian Black is tackling a great work of literature.


  • State of Mind: Deep Dive into interesting stories
  • America’s Girls: Mini series on Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders. Launches in October

Wonder Media Network

  • The Brown Girl’s Guide to Politics was nominated for a Webby; Host A’shanti Gholar leads conversations with women changing the face of politics. Episodes include interviews with politicians, candidates, and influencers. Get ready for roundtables, analyzing current events, and more.
  • As She Rises is a show about climate change for people who find climate change to be an overwhelming topic sometimes. Talks to local activists and local poets.
  • Gravity is a podcast that looks at hardship differently and is about accepting life in all its fullness.


Announced 15 new original series voiced by well-known actors including:

  • Edith!: Satirical comedy about a first lady who was really in charge. 
  • Electric Easy: Science fiction, forbidden love between android and human
  • Ronstadt: weird 911 calls about supernatural experiences


  • Overheard at National Geographic: Focusing on crowd-pleasing, timely, and audio enriched content for Nat Geo Fans
  • First Take Her Take: Sports, Pop Culture, Host Personal lives. Female Focused
  • Story From the Depths: Nat Geo – 6 episode narrative series about scuba divers exploring sunken slave trading ships. 
  • Life Out Loud with LZ Granderson: Captures untold LGBTQ stories
  • Have You Seen This Man (John Ruffo) Season 2 coming soon 
  • 30 for 30 Podcast – next series
  • The View 25th-anniversary podcast – coming this fall

iHeart Media

  • Humans Growing Stuff: hosted by Mangesh Hattikudur in collaboration between iHeartMedia and Miracle-Gro, this is a show about growing and gardening for everyone
  • Black Effect Podcast Network network in collaboration with iHeart supporting Black creators in the podcasting – 27 podcasts and growing
  • My Cultura – New Latinx network created by iHeart, the first show launches in July. Project to create 30 shows.

Audacy’s Cadence13 & Pineapple Street Studios

  • 4D with Demi Lovato – Wants to pick up where her documentary leaves off. Give more insight into her life and her passions
  • 70 over 70 – a new show under Pineapple Street Studios, launching in May 2021
  • C13 features will be a new vertical for C13: “Movies for your Ears”. High attention to soundscaping and music. Treat and Ghostwriter drops around Halloween/this fall.


  • That Thing I Do: Cadence13 has partnered with Grammy-nominated bassist Este Haim and Primetime Emmy Award-winning actor Darren Criss for their first-ever podcast about their mutual love of music, pop culture, and more with special guests in a weekly show format.
  • Tell Me with Ellen Pompeo: Ellen Pompeo—the star of ABC’s long-running hit series Grey’s Anatomy, will sit down for in-depth, candid conversations with a wide range of guests to find out what makes them great.


  • Shay Mitchell podcast coming to Acast Roster
  • Jason Bolden and Adair Curtis podcast, launching soon. All about fashion, design, beauty and style. 
  • A Depth in Crypto – the mystery of Jerry Cotten
  • The Next Call – an investigative journalism podcast 

Sony Music Entertainment

  • Wow in the World tells listeners about cool stuff that is happening in the world that is digestible in a co-listening environment.
  • Role Model with Leomie Anderson with special guests each week
  • Bad Blood: The Final Chapter from two-time Pulitzer Prize winner John Carreyrou 
  • Chameleon: High Rollers, the second season of Chameleon coming in June
  • Human Resources
  • Broccoli Book Club 
  • Things You Don’t Need to Know
  • Good Words with Kirk Franklin: Season 2 coming soon
  • Hip Hop Raised Me: Inside the minds of top artists in the hip hop community 

CBS News

  • CBS Eye on Money with Jill Schlesinger 
  • She Makes the Rules – CBS News takes a look at some of the key women that have been Rule-makers and Rule-breakers
  • Risking it All – Dr. Sandra Magnus, a former NASA astronaut, and retired Navy Admiral along with James “Sandy” Winnefeld will host a weekly podcast talking to people who are “risking it all.”

Blue Wire

  • American Prodigy: a look into the upbringing of American sports stars
  • The Dew Zone: voices and discussions of basketball culture sponsored by MTN DEW 
  • On the Clock: NFL and fantasy football
  • Signed Chris Long (Ex NFL Star) for a new Podcast launching soon


  • Avatar: Braving the Elements – 40 episodes, premieres Tuesday, June 22, 2021
  • SpongeBob BingePants – 40 episodes, premieres later this year

Whether this was your first IAB Upfront or your 10th, the energy and excitement have only continued to grow. The podcast year ahead will be even bigger, star-studded, and full of a more diverse group of content creators and listeners creating even more opportunities for advertisers and creatives. 


Photo by Dan LeFebvre on Unsplash