Let us take our chances and say that you are tempted to skip reading this entire article, apart from the key pointers. But imagine this – how about an audio broadcast version of this, which you can listen to while multitasking with whatever you are doing at the moment. That’s essentially what a podcast is, and convenience is just one of the reasons behind its surging popularity.
The rise in popularity of podcasts in recent times
In December 2020, Amazon announced its acquisition of Wondery, a podcasting company. The popular audio firm Spotify has also been acquiring multiple podcast start-ups over the past two years. Ximalaya FM, a Chinese podcasting platform, has earned the unicorn status. This shopping spree by industry giants are a strong indicator of just how big podcasts are set to become globally. India too saw a growth in podcast listeners with a 42% increase of users on audio streaming platforms in March 2020.
Another reason why podcasts are increasingly finding listeners is the wide range of genres on offer. From news and talk shows to a variety of audio books and lessons on self-improvement, there is no dearth of content for all listeners. While there are a few hiccups such as monetising by transforming the increase in listeners to revenue (only about 1% of users are paid subscribers of the top music apps in India), podcasting platforms are optimistic for the time ahead given the rise in audiences. After all, pandemic notwithstanding, 2020 was a massive year for the podcasting world.
Trends forecasted for podcasts in 2021
- Continued rise of live streaming
Live broadcasting of interviews, debates, and podcasting events saw a growth over the past few years and particularly in 2020, given the COVID-19 scenario. Podcasting events grew in popularity as virtual attendance became the new normal, and the prediction is that such live streams will continue to be popular in 2021. Podcast events not only bring hosts, audiences, marketers together but is also a scope for revenue earning as platforms can go on to charge admission entry for listeners.
- Growth in podcast ad revenue
Talking about revenue, 2021 will see an increase in earnings for brands since podcasting offers a low-cost yet effective method of advertising. The Guardian’s Podcast Insights 2020 found that audiences not only listen carefully to ads during podcasts, but are also more likely to search for the product being advertised or recommend it to people they know. The WARC Global Ad Trends report of 2019 estimates that podcast advertising will be worth $1.6 billion by 2022. Marketers ready to invest so much in podcast ads only speaks volumes about the expected ad revenues.
- New and independent entrants into podcasting
The dynamic nature of podcasting makes it easier for new talent to enter the space, and 2021 is expected to witness more new and independent entrants launching podcasts. At the same time, big industry names like Facebook are also adding audio content to their platforms. Moreover, with people spending more time at home, the demand for innovative and diverse content has opened up podcasting opportunities for independent artists.
- Newer strategies for monetising podcasts
Podcast makers and platforms this year will be looking for new avenues to cash in on the demand and monetise podcasts beyond the usual advertising. Luminary has a subscription model similar to Netflix via Apple Podcasts Subscriptions to access audio content. Platforms also use podcasts to drive audiences to their other businesses, such as an audio call to action to visit their website or buy an online newspaper subscription. Podcorn uses a model in which they connect brands to relevant podcasters for placing ads, a brilliant strategy that helps all podcasters earn money.
- Increase in competition among podcast platforms
It is no surprise that the competition among the various platforms are all set to heat up this year. Brands are using social listening to identify demands and offer endless options to listeners, with genres ranging from pop culture and comedy to true crime. Apple and Spotify have been two of the biggest podcast platforms, and now other players are putting in a good fight for their share of the industry. Recently, Spotify announced a host of new podcast originals targeted at the Indian audience. Other apps are offering innovative content, exclusives with celebrities, and audio options in various languages – all to the benefit of listeners.
- More variety in listeners
Along with the diversity in podcast content, the listener demographic is also expanding and 2021 is likely to see a continuation of this trend. From young teens to parents and audiences across genders, ethnicity, age groups, and occupation, podcast listenership is truly engaged in the content available today. In fact, recent data from Nielsen shows that there is more diversity in podcast audiences than in the actual population of the US.
According to a 2020 report by FICCI-EY, 47% of all internet users in India in the age group of 16-64 years listen to podcasts. While podcasting is currently a frequently-changing space, with such recent statistics, one thing seems sure – audio will continue to be big in 2021.
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