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How Pocket FM won over Middle America to hit $160 Mn in ARR

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Sohini Mitter

37 reads
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Sohini Mitter

37 reads

Pocket FM has no precedent. An Indian consumer tech startup rapidly monetising in the US, while its home market crawls is a fascinating case study. Here’s the behind-the-scenes on how it wooed mainstream American audiences, who can’t get enough of its risqué audio shows.

May 07, 2024

9 MINS READ

Key Takeaways

  • In just two years since its international foray, Pocket FM’s annualised revenues have skyrocketed from $2.4 million to ~$160 million
  • The American Midwest is lapping up its content. States like Utah, Texas, and even Massachusetts (on the East Coast) are some of its biggest markets, with even the working class tuning into its shows
  • The CapTable has exclusively learnt that Pocket FM is also in talks with WestBridge Capital for a new funding round, and the PE investor is currently doing diligence
  • Ahead of its expansion in Europe and LatAm, Pocket FM is also running pilots for Spanish content in the US, which has a large Hispanic population

Pocket FM is no longer just an audio streaming platform. Calling it merely that might be restricting its imagination, innovation, and acceleration. By all means, it is a full-blown entertainment company today. One that doesn’t just create, own, and distribute content on a large scale, but also manages to make audiences pay—and eagerly wait—for their next entertainment fix. 

They say one of the measures of success in the entertainment business is when people tirelessly want to know: ‘When’s the next episode dropping?’ or ‘When’s the next season coming?’ A quick perusal of social media is littered with Pocket FM listeners awaiting the next episode drop of its hit shows, some even going as far as conjuring up plotlines and narratives for popular characters. 

This, of course, comes on the back of Pocket FM’s blockbuster successes such as Insta Millionaire and Ek Ladki Ko Dekha (reimagined as Saving Nora in overseas markets). Both these audio shows span across 1,400-1,800 episodes each, and have grossed $15 million and $18 million in revenues, respectively. This is comparable to any superhit Bollywood film that collects Rs 120-150 crore at the box office. 

Insta Millionaire has also clocked a whopping 1.3 billion streams, while Saving Nora has upwards of half a billion listens. Even though audio series is a relatively nascent category in the world of entertainment, more than 15 shows on Pocket FM have earned over a million dollars in revenue. 

On the back of this, just two years after its international foray, Pocket FM’s annualised revenues have skyrocketed from $2.4 million to ~$160 million (until December 2023). The US and other international markets (primarily the Middle East and Southeast Asia) account for over 70% of its revenues today. “Our revenue is going up by 30-40% QoQ, and we are aiming to reach even bigger milestones soon,” an official spokesperson at Pocket FM told The CapTable in an email. 

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