10 Things to Consider When Sponsoring a Podcast

29th July 2019 Media Law

According to the communications regulator OFCOM, six million adults are now listening to Podcasts each week. This means the number of people listening has doubled in five years and comedy is the most popular genre.

Those who listen to Podcasts will know that the business model is a fairly simple one, the majority of Podcasts are free to download. In order to make a profit on the podcast, some podcasters have started to develop partnerships with sponsors in much the same way as commercial radio stations have done over the years.

If you are considering sponsoring a podcast, it is worth instructing solicitors to draft your sponsorship agreement here are 10 things to include in a sponsorship agreement.

1. Parties

It may seem obvious but the starting point of any agreement is to state who the parties are. If either of the parties is a company, state the name and company number. Company names change but company numbers do not.

2. What is being sponsored?

Agree with the podcaster exactly what it is you are sponsoring. If you are simply sponsoring the Podcast say so, if you are supporting a new podcast financially from the start, you may want to benefit from any spin offs such as clothing and other products in recognition of the risk you have taken. Either way it’s important to agree that from the start.

Outline how regularly the podcast will be available for download and how many sponsorship credits you will receive per podcast and include that in the agreement.

State in the agreement when you will receive your sponsorship credit and how it will be delivered. Some things to think about:

Will it be a verbal mention?

A radio style advertisement?

A sung jingle? If it is a jingle, who is paying for the production of the jingle and any licensing payments to the production company?

Also consider when the sponsorship credit will be aired will it be at the start of the podcast, the middle or the end?

This way you know exactly what it is you are buying and the podcaster knows what it is selling always think of any ambiguities that may arise.

3. Fees

In the agreement, outline how the fees are going to be paid and when payment is due. For example, will the sponsorship fee be paid monthly at the end of the month, quarterly on set dates or will the full amount be paid in advance?

Think about what will happen if you pay but you don’t receive the promised credits.

Whatever the financial arrangement is, put it in the agreement.

4. Sponsorship Period

What is the duration of the sponsorship? If you are entering into a 12 month sponsorship, state that in the agreement. If you would like an option to renew to reward your loyalty, state that in the agreement and give a timescale to exercise this right (for example) three months from the end of the sponsorship.

5. Obligations

It is important for the podcaster and the sponsor that each party knows what it is expected to do and to what standard, this way the parameters are clearly set.

There should be an obligation on all parties to comply with applicable laws and the regulations issued by regulators such as the Advertising Standards Agency.

6. Termination

Whilst everyone enters into an agreement with the best of intentions, it is always sensible to include a termination clause to allow for a route out. The termination clause can include certain events when the agreement will terminate, for example if no podcast is provided. Also set out the consequences of termination.

7. Intellectual Property (IP)

Quite often with a podcast it will be the podcaster who has devised the concept for the podcast. There may be logos in existence, a website with supplementary content and other social media accounts. The podcaster may have spent hours or even weeks coming up with the concept and lots of time implementing the ideas.

As has been mentioned above, podcasters seek a sponsor to monetise the podcast and the sponsor may have similar products or services to the subject matter of the podcast to promote there’s no motivation for the podcaster, or for that matter the sponsor to simply giveaway intellectual property.

Be clear about who owns which part of the IP which aspects of the IP the podcaster is going to retain as its IP such as the logo and the copyright in the broadcast. If you are going to retain certain IP as the sponsor set this out in the agreement, the more detail the better.

8. Warranties and Indemnities

Warranties are promises and indemnities are a protection against loss on a pound for pound basis if a specified event ever happens.

Think of these as your protections and the opportunity for both the podcaster and the sponsor to protect their interests.

As an example, a sponsor may seek certain warranties and indemnities such as ensuring the brand is protected and not misused. The sponsor may wish to set out how the brand is to integrate with the podcast to protect the reputation of the brand.

Equally the podcaster may seek certain warranties and indemnities to protect its IP so that its logos can’t be misused.

9. Dispute Resolution

What happens if it all goes wrong? When parties enter into an agreement the hope is that things won’t go wrong but, it is sensible to plan for what would happen in the worst case scenario.

It is advisable to include a clause that sets out that the law of England and Wales will govern the contract and that any dispute will be settled before the English Courts. It means that all of the parties have agreed in advance what law applies and where disputes are to be settled.

It would be odd to have a podcast recorded in English, aimed at listeners in England and for a legal action using Dutch law in Holland or using the law of a particular US state in the USA for example. This clause will add certainty and may mean that a sponsor doesn’t have to find a Dutch lawyer that speaks English and then go to the expense of instructing lawyers overseas.

10. Enjoy being part of an exciting project, radio (podcast) is said to be the theatre of the mind so enjoy the showbiz!

The above are just a few considerations for podcasters and sponsors, If you’d like help drafting a sponsorship agreement or for further information contact Dominic Walker at JMW Solicitors on 0345 872 6666.

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Dominic Walker is a Solicitor located in Manchesterin our Media Law department

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