Weekly Roundup: Picking up pace

Hello podheads, last week was pretty eventful and I’ve pretty much covered the biggest developments. Here’s issue #12 

Datawatch

A few reports and surveys on podcast consumption patterns were published last week. The thing is, most of these reports are US-centric. I guess we’ll have to wait a long time before we start seeing numbers about podcast consumption habits in other countries. Regardless, the numbers put together show that there is growth.

Starting off with the big one. Edison research published The Podcast Consumer Canada 2018. Here are some highlights

  1. 28% of Candian adults are monthly podcast listeners, while 19% are weekly podcast listeners.
  2. 61% of Candian adults are familiar with the term “Podcasting”. Remember, familiarity doesn’t equal listenership. But the data point is heartening nonetheless.
  3. 47% Canadians have listened to a podcast at least once.
  4. Weekly listeners spent 6 hours on an average listening to podcasts.
  5. Home, In car, and work, make up top three locations where people listen to podcasts.

Check out the full report for more on this.

Midroll (now Stitcher) published the Podcast Listener Demographics Report 2018. The ad network surveyed 151,502 people between Feb 2nd to Oct 4, 2017. This is essentially Stitcher’s sales pitch but the numbers are intriguing.

Here are some interesting numbers:

  1. 81% of the respondents said that they sometimes or always pay attention to a podcast.
  2. 60% of the respondents have bought something from a podcast ad.
  3. 72% of the respondents who have heard a show from more than four years have made a purchase.
  4. Listeners are largely educated, affluent and millennials. 66% of the respondents are between the age group 18-34. 44% have a household income of over $75,000.

A pretty lucrative audience, eh? Advertisers, if you are reading this, time to loosen those purse strings.

Speaking of sales pitches’, here’s a native ad by NPR on AdAge. Hey, I’d be sold. That’s a solid pitch.

Podcasts in the land of the Nigerian princes

According to a poll conducted by Tony Doe Media in Nigeria, 42.4% respondents said they listen to a podcast once a week. Yeah, baby! Things are on the up and up.

Well, all this data put together, it does make for a pretty picture. Look, podcasts are a million miles away from being mainstream, but as the saying goes

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step

Don’t know why I sound like an old door to door salesman. 

Polly in your pocket

Pocket, the Read it later app rolled out an update that gave the app a complete makeover. Along with a fresh new UI, the most important feature was the new and improved text-to-speech feature. Pocket had the feature for quite some time now, but it was one of those robotic text-to-speech engines. In the new update, Pocket has integrated Amazon Polly and with the update, the voices now sound much more human and natural.

The player also got an upgrade with a playback speed option and a playlist. 

Nate Weiner, the CEO of Pocket, in a blogpost announcing the update wrote:

Your Pocket list just became your own personal podcast, curated by you.

I’ve been an avid fan of Pocket for nearly a decade(ish) now and the app has become an indispensable part of my everyday life, the second brain as I like to call it.

It’s one of those rare apps, that didn’t lose its way and become something that was not meant to be. It has retained its core focus, which is to enable users to save articles and videos for reading/watching later. It has built on this by adding text-to-speech and recommendations features, which compliment the core functionality of the app wonderfully.

The new feature has the potential to be a gateway to podcasts for millions of listeners. According to Bloomberg, the app has over 30 million users. With Mozilla acquiring the app, the functionalities are now baked right into the browser, which only goes to further highlight the promise.

We can already extrapolate the success or failure from other apps that have a similar text-to-speech feature, most notably Bloomberg. We covered this in the last week’s edition of the roundup. Speaking about the text-to-audio feature in the app to Digiday, Julia Beizer, global chief product officer said:

Adoption started off slow, particularly on mobile web, and shortly after launch, people were listening to two and a half stories on average per app session. Now, this has increased to six stories and has become the second-most popular media type on the app (behind live TV).

Julia Beizer

So, here’s hoping the feature takes off.

Scam, scammy, and alright?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you would have seen a lot of chatter about the broken Apple podcast charts. Well, people who know tonnes more than me have written brilliant pieces decoding the whole mess. So, I am not going to spend much time on this. Check these pieces by James Cridland and Adam Bowie and Mikey Campbell respectively.

The Apple Podcasts Chart is screwed. How should we replace it?
Apple Podcasts Charts
Apple seemingly aware of alleged ‘Top Podcasts’ chart manipulation

The podcast universe

Dan Misener created a chart of the primary category of podcasts listed in the iTunes directory. Guess what? Christianity is the biggest category in the directory. Check out the post for more. I think this is a handy resource for people who are submitting shows to iTunes.

Pandora’s box

Pandora is one of the biggest music streaming services in the US. It had earlier this year announced that it was working on improving podcast recommendations. The project was called The Podcast Genome Project, similar to its Music Genome Project. Things got interesting last month when satellite radio giant Sirius XM acquired Pandora.

But anyways, AdExcahnger has a Q&A with Lizzie Widhelm, SVP of ad innovation and sales enablement at Pandora which gives an idea of the thinking of the folks over there.

Listeners are gravitating toward spoken word content and we want to provide easy and effortless access. Nailing the personalization piece is going to set us apart.

Lizzie Widhelm, SVP of ad innovation and sales enablement at Pandora

In case you are lost for context, we had covered The Podcast Genome Project in this issue.

Keeping up with Google

Zack Reneau-Wedeen, Product Manager of Google Podcasts was on a panel at the Public Radio Content Conference 2018. He spoke about the Google Podcasts Strategy and makes for an interesting watch. Check it out

Radiocasts

Dan Granger, Founder, CEO of Oxford Road wrote a brilliant piece titled How radio has consumed the podcast world”. In the piece, he opines that radio giants are perfectly poised to take advantage of the podcasting goldrush

The point here is that the major players have reorganized and are capitalized to take much larger bites out of the podcast industry than most people expected. As the Podcast industry matures, it’s riddled with former radio talent (like myself and much of my staff), who are helping this savvy, nascent community grow up into a multi-billion dollar powerhouse

Dan Granger

Podcast to TV

Hit podcast Limetown is getting the TV treatment. Facebook has ordered a 10 episode series based on the podcast. The show will star Jessica Biel and will air on Facebook Watch. Limetown joins a growing list of podcasts that are being adapted into movies and TV shows.

Check out issue 7 and 9 for more context on the rising trend in Movie and TV adaptations.

Speaking of podcasts to TV, television network Bravo which is adapting Dirty John into a TV series released a new trailer for the show by the same name. The show which stars Eric Bana and Connie Britton in lead roles debuts on November 25th.

Miscellaneous

Stanford Storytelling Project transitions from radio broadcasting to online podcasts. – Stanford Dialy.

More Spotify news. All Acast podcasts are now available on Spotify. 

More shakeups at Slate after the recent Panoply move. Steve Lickteig, executive producer of podcasts is leaving Slate to join NBC News and MSNBC.

Doesn’t end there. Julia Turner, the editor-in-chief of Slate is switching over to Los Angeles Times where she’ll be responsible for the arts and Entertainment coverage.

Wait…there’s more. Slate has begun piloting a new daily podcast. The show will be hosted by Mary Harris.

How’s that for a busy week?

We’ll have to wait and see what this means for Slate. I think it’s a good sign to see legacy media giants hire podcast veterans.

The battle in your ear buds: The bros of political podcasting and their quest to reinvent punditry. A Washington Post profile of the guys behind Crooked Media.

Podcast updates from IAB Newfronts 2018 west. 

Here’s What Was Said At RAIN Canada’s Podcasting 360 Panel. 

Voices from India

Congratulations. 

The Play to Potential podcast by Deepak Jayaraman was recently awarded the best podcast at the Digipub Awards held by Digipub world. The Digipub Awards are focussed on recognizing and rewarding creative and exciting initiatives by Indian websites.

New launches

The Night Shift

Brought to you by independent journalist Kunal Purohit, the Night Shift podcast is a 4 part podumentary that covers the lives of four Mumbai women, a cab driver, a bouncer, a bar dancer and a home guard. Each episode is a peek into the lives of these women, who have defied societal and cultural norms to take on jobs that require them to work at night, against all odds and patriarchal mindsets. A very well made series, kudos.

Econornmist Podcast

A homegrown podcast that has set out to make Economics more relatable. Brought to you by Tareque and Jayanth, the Econormist opens with a wonderful quote from Andy Zaltzman

“I sincerely don’t understand what economics is about, and I hope to die that way!”, which perhaps sums up the state of mind of a lot of us. But we could certainly make an attempt to change that with this podcast.

The Tollywood Project

We are always excited when we see vernacular podcast launches. Given the vernacular diversity of India, such podcasts are the need of the hour. It is impossible for podcasts to hit their growth stride in India without compelling content in regional languages. This podcast by Sandy and Chaitu is for if you are a Telugu movie buff. All the best guys.

Posted by Bhuvanesh

A podcast junkie on a mission to make podcasts great.

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