Obviously ATP’s success is — in part — due to the loyal following that both John and Marco had accumulated over years of putting out fantastic podcasts. I don’t think anyone is suggesting that ATP itself is crap, and people only listen because they like John and Marco. People like John and Marco because they make great podcasts.
In this case it obviously made sense for them to own the show from the beginning. They don’t need the practical benefits of a network because they have the time and resources to do the same thing. They didn’t need the “discovery” aspect because they were already discovered.
Sid makes some good points. It’s not a zero-sum game.