Weekly Roundup: A world of possibilities

Hello Podheads, writing this edition reminded me of the long way podcasting has come and at the same time, the world of possibilities out there. Issue #10.

Bubble talk

There has been a lot of talk about podcasting bubble. This whole debate started with this piece by Mathew Ingram, the chief digital writer at CJR. The article was rather ominously titled “Is the podcast bubble bursting”. Predictably, this set off a loud debate in the podcast community and a lot of opinions were thrown around. We covered this whole topic in the last issue, and I said “No! The podcast bubble hasn’t formed, let alone burst.”

This past week, Eric Nuzum, formerly of NPR and Audible penned a piece on this whole notion of a podcasting bubble. Right at the beginning of the post, he wrote

The bubble hasn’t burst because there wasn’t a bubble in the first place.

He goes on to explain what a real bubble is, with the examples of the infamous Tulipmania and Bitcoinmania. Two perfect examples of bubbles.

In its simplest terms, market bubbles happen when price exceeds intrinsic value. Another sign of bubbles? The presence of speculators: people buying something in order to sell it again at an ever-escalating price.

I couldn’t agree more with Eric and the post makes for an excellent read.

More bubble talk

Marty Moe, President, Vox Media posted his view on the whole podcasting bubble debate on Twitter. Check out the full thread

Another perspective by Jenna Weiss-Berman, co-founder of Pineapple Media

I honestly think that this whole debate about a podcast bubble is a pointless one. Just for a little context, here’s a Google trend graph showing the search volume of the terms “Podcast” and “Bitcoin”. Where’s the bubble?

When more than half the planet is yet to listen to a podcast, calling the situation where a couple of companies are changing focus a bubble is a massive stretch. Moving on…

Data Beat

First up, Brian Benedik, Spotify’s Global Head of Advertising spoke to Reuters and mentioned a couple of interesting trends and numbers.

This is really surprising on a audio first

“Video is our fastest-growing format, which is counter-intuitive for an audio-led platform,”

Ironic isn’t it? Here are some other interesting numbers, mentioned in the article

Benedik said he saw potential for Spotify to deploy its algorithms to recommend podcasts, along the lines of its ‘Recommended for You’ feature for music, that will get to know users’ interests and keep them coming back for more.

In Germany, podcast listening on Spotify has increased 150 percent, year-on-year. Growth rates globally are 367 percent.

“If we can figure out a recommendation around podcasts and serve them up to users, that would be great,” said Benedik, adding that if Spotify can get the user experience right this would open the way to make more revenue from podcasts

We had covered Spotify’s focus on podcasting in an earlier issue. Rob Walch of Libysn speaking on the NZ Tech Podcast had said that Spotify accounts for 7% of all their listens.

Candian Podcast Listener 2018

The Canadian Podcast Listener released the 2018 edition of the study last week. The study is conducted by Audience Insights Inc, Ulster Media, and The Podcast Exchange (TPX). The report showed a slow, but steady growth in podcast listening in Canada. Having said that, there were a few findings which are a cause for concern. Here are some highlights from the study:

  1. 26% of Canadians listen to podcasts at least once a month, up from 24% last year. Unsexy growth, but growth nonetheless.
  2. The report found that existing podcast listeners are driving most of the growth. People who have been listening to podcasts for at least 5 years now listen to 8.4 episodes per week, up from 7.2 episodes last year. People who started listening to podcasts in the last 2-5 years now listen to 4.8 episode per week vs 3.9 last year. People who started listening to podcasts in the past year listened to 3.7 episodes per week vs 3.6 last year.
  3. The report also found indications of a substantial churn in listeners. Of the 26% monthly listeners, the report found that 11% of respondents said that they started listening to podcasts in the last one year.
  4. 50% of the listeners use Android devices vs 45% last year. 41% of the listeners used Apple devices vs 42% last year.
  5. The report also found that podcast listeners are twice as likely as other Candian adults to own a smart speaker.
  6. New listeners are less likely to subscribe or download shows.
  7. iTunes isn’t the top discovery destination. Social Media, Friends and Family and Websites are top sources for podcast discovery.
  8. Personal interests of listeners are the major reason why listeners are drawn to podcasts.
  9. Newer listeners are likelier than old podcast listeners to listen to older episodes of a show.

The report also had suggestions on how the industry can be more welcoming to new listeners.

Look outside the iOS bubble.
Don’t ignore the smart speaker!
Reduce the hurdles to listening.
Leverage the power of niche interests.
Don’t discount the value of older episodes.

A lot of industry veterans have been shouting from the rooftops about the need to improve these aspects, but change has been slow to come. The recommendations, although might seem obvious, are spot on.

If you are a podcaster, it is in your best interest to make things as easy as possible for prospective listeners to listen to your show. We keep seeing instances where podcasters deliberately make it harder for their shows to be found. Things such as the poor design of websites, excessive or sole focus on Apple, lack of engagement with listeners etc.

I remember hearing an industry veteran say podcasters have a unique ability to make things harder for new listeners. He asked podcasters to put themselves in the shoes of listeners. This is the best piece of advice podcasters can ever hope for. Even in our previous issues, we’d written about the need for podcasters to focus on these issues and we will continue to until we start seeing change, no matter how small. We shall nag on…

Smart speakers

Data measurement firm Nielsen published a report on smart speakers. Although the report doesn’t mention podcasts, it still has a lot of insights for podcasters.

I am just selectively choosing these numbers from the report to highlight the oppurtunities for podcasters. In a given week, 90% of smart speaker users listen to music. 75% of users searched for factual info such as history, trivia etc, while 68% of users listen to the news. News & politics, History, which is categorized under Society & culture are some of the biggest genres in podcasting.

The smart speaker report by NPR and Edison Research had shown that 18% of Americans – about 43 million own a smart speaker. The report also found that in a given week, 20% of first adopters and 28% of the early mainstream used smart speakers to listen to a podcast.

A study of 2018 weekly podcast listeners by Westwood One had also found that 27% of respondents listened to podcasts on smart speakers, up from 22% in 2017.

With a growth in sales and usgae of smart speakers, It’s time you considered getting on the bandwagon.

Louder Vox

Vox Media which is betting big on podcasts announced a new slate of programming. The company announced new shows on Recode, Eater, and SB Nation and returning shows on The Verge, Vox, and Polygon. It also announced the expansion of its flagship shows on The Verge and Vox.

Vox’s expanion is in stark contrast to its digital media comrade, Buzzfeed’s exit.

Good times…

Gimlet Media also announced its fall slate of programming.


Ma’ayan Plaut, Content Strategist & Podcast Librarian at RadioPublic wrote about what movie and book adaptions of podcasts mean for the industry. 

The rise of podcast adaptations signals that podcasts are ready for prime time, ready for a broader world that is only now starting to explore the wealth of creativity possible in audio form. The quickly forming world of podcast adaptations establishes another rung for podcasters aspiring to new levels of professional craftpersonship and a clearer pathway toward financial sustainability for podcasters everywhere.

I agree with Ma’ayan and this trend, the way I see will continue. If you’re unaware, Hollywood wants in on the podcast action. In the past year or so, major studios have moved to acquire rights to some popular podcasts and are turning them into Movies and TV Shows. We had covered these developments in issue 7 and 9.

Podcasts in India

Speaking at  Digipub World,  Aman Goklani, head of India operations at AudioBoom presented a report on podcast consumption trends. The report had a lot of India specific data, which is as scarce as Ruthenium. 

This week’s “Voices From India” segment was delayed due to bad weather. Saif will have the updates for you guys soon. 

Weekly Recommendations

We’ve got some really good ones this week. 

Posted by Bhuvanesh

A podcast junkie on a mission to make podcasts great.

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