Will Ferrell wants to grab more people by the ears.
The actor, comedian and producer has formed Big Money Players Network, a podcast company focused on comedy shows, in partnership with radio and podcast giant iHeartMedia. The new venture plans to produce and launch 10 podcasts in the next 24 months, starting to roll out in 2020. The deal between Ferrell and iHeartMedia was brokered by UTA.
Ferrell already dipped a toe into the podcast stream with iHeartRadio as host of “The Ron Burgundy Podcast,” reprising his daft “Anchorman” character. The show debuted earlier in 2019 and has consistently ranked among the top 100 podcasts in the U.S.
The podcast format has been around for well over a decade, but its surge in popularity over recent years has spurred new interest from a wave of Hollywood talent, media companies and tech platforms — including Conan O’Brien, the Obamas and Spotify — looking to cash in on audio listeners.
Ferrell commented, “The iHeartPodcast Network has been such a pleasure to work with. I love hanging out in the offices and I’ve only been yelled at once for using someone’s computer, which I shouldn’t have done.”
According to the parties, the Big Money Players Network will recruit top comedic talent for a variety of podcast formats and styles, spanning both scripted and unscripted. be available on iHeartRadio and everywhere else podcasts are heard.
“We’ve worked extremely close with Will over the past year and our listeners love what we’ve offered them so far,” said Conal Byrne, president of the iHeartPodcast Network. “The creative opportunities that an iHeart and Will Ferrell collaboration offer are limitless.”
When UTA was looking to expand Ferrell’s podcast presence, it zeroed in on iHeartMedia because “they have an innate understanding of the podcasting landscape and will help bring this partnership to the next level,” said UTA head of emerging platforms Oren Rosenbaum.
Ferrell is next set to star in comedy feature “Eurovision” and drama “Downhill.” He also is a producer on several recent film and TV projects including “Succession,” “Dead to Me,” “Hustlers,” “Booksmart” and “Vice.”
As part of its strategy to exploit podcasting, iHeartMedia in 2018 acquired HowStuffWorks for $55 million. The company’s ongoing slate of original podcasts include “Disgraceland,” “Chelsea Handler: Life will be the Death of Me,” “Noble Blood” and “Committed,” alongside more than 100 shows from its on-air radio talent like “Bobbycast” and “The Breakfast Club.” The shows shows are distributed on all major podcast platforms, including the iHeartRadio app, which hosts more than 250,000 podcast shows.