Podcast player application Pocket Casts was acquired by a public radio group in mid-2018, right around the time Spotify started expanding into the podcast world. The service has had some ups and downs since then, but now it looks like Pocket Casts could have new ownership in the near future.
NPR is one of the groups with an ownership stake in Pocket Casts, and a recent financial report (as spotted by media news site Current) revealed that Pocket Casts' board met in December and agreed to sell the service. "The plan of sale is still in development as of the date of these consolidated financial statements," the report said. "Upon the sale of Pocket Casts, Podcast Media’s members intend to dissolve the organization. NPR expects to no longer be an investor in Podcast Media by September 30, 2021."
As of September 30th, 2020, NPR and New York Public radio have the largest shares in Pocket Media, with 34.6% ownership each. Chicago Public Media owns 27.46%, and BBC Studios Americas has 3.35%. The report also revealed that Pocket Casts operated at a net loss during the 2020 fiscal year, with NPR's share of the loss coming to $800,000.
Pocket Casts has had a mixed history under corporate ownership. Roughly a year after the purchase, the app went through a major redesign, adding some new features and removing others. The update was controversial, though Pocket Casts brought back some removed functionality later. It also became a free app in 2019, alongside the introduction of a paid plan offering cloud storage hosting and unrestricted access to the desktop web player. More recently, Pocket Casts added outro skipping and improved suggestions.