Podcasts are enabling publishers to grow their audience and diversify their revenue streams.
The key takeaways:
- In July, it was forecasted that 2020 podcast ad revenues could exceed $1 billion, and publishers are exploring other ways to continue growing.
- Podcast acquisitions are becoming more common as publishers recognize the power of audience loyalty.
- There are now over 1 million active podcast shows, up from 550,000 in 2018, raising competition.
Who’s doing it: Creating podcasts is nothing new for publishers. Recently, some of the industry leaders have expanded their efforts to grow their podcast audiences.
- Spotify made headlines with their $100 million purchase of the Joe Rogan podcast. This was swiftly followed by an exclusive deal for an upcoming podcast with Kim Kardashian West.
- NY Times podcast The Daily receives 2 million listeners per show, and they recently acquired the company behind Serial and This American Life, the two most popular podcasts ever.
- Slate magazine has said that over half of their overall revenue comes from advertising across their 25 shows.
- Successful podcasts like these have led to a projected growth jump from 88 million listeners in 2019 to 164 million by 2023.
Getting creative: While news content is an obvious first step, publishers are using this opportunity to create innovative content:
- NPR was one of the first to begin producing podcasts back in 2005, and the station has now grown its catalog of shows, offering news segments as well as deep-dives into niche topics.
- The Atlantic has seen growth with their podcasts over the past couple of years, using its editorial style of storytelling in the podcast form.
- The success of Serial has inspired publishers to produce investigative-style audio content, with ESPN recently releasing the Bloodlines podcast, and The Atlantic’s Floodlines using a similar style.
The thorny side:
Podcasts may be a great way for publishers to grow readers but can they drive revenue in the long run?
- CEO of Hearst UK said, “When it comes to podcasts, commercially it’s a long walk for a small drink…It’s a really important way for brands to stay relevant but the commercial model is unproven.”
- The industry saw a 20% decline in listeners but podcast hosting company Castos is experiencing an uptick of 300% more creators, adding to the growing competition.
- Westwood One’s Podcast Report revealed that storytelling content is the top category for female podcast listeners; a demographic that has grown by 23% over the last 3 years.
The route to success:
Despite the skepticism, outlets are using podcasts to increase revenue and readership in ways that print cannot.
- Adverts, sponsorship, and subscriptions are just a few of the ways that podcasts can make money for publishers.
- Advertisers are paying for more podcast ads, and some publishers have increased their ad revenue by 50% in just one year.
- The FT is experimenting with exclusive podcast content for their subscribers, rather than relying on ad revenue.
- Audio articles are becoming more popular for many of the same reasons as podcasts, including higher engagement rates.
- Podcasts are also much harder for competitors to copy, unlike with print content.