Broadcasting and Podcasting have historically been seen as opposing forces — live vs on-demand, lean-back vs lean in, local vs global, topical vs ever-green…However, as podcasts break further into the mainstream, we’re now seeing examples of ‘hybrid’ content which works on live radio and on-demand as a podcast — or live on Youtube and on-demand as a podcast like the hugely popular Joe Rogan Experience podcast. Audiences are evolving and it’s becoming apparent that the most valuable type of show is one that excels on multiple platforms.
For example, ‘The Daily’ — the daily news podcast from the New York Times — is not only a hugely popular podcast with a reported 2 million downloads a day, it’s also been repurposed for radio syndication in the US since April 2018.
Conversely in Australia, “The People’s Show” Hamish and Andy was the number one rating FM weekday drive show for over 10 years and now after leaving the airwaves, the boys now release a top-rated, weekly podcast for Podcast One Australia.
Content that works well live and on-demand offers the best of both worlds; more audience and revenue opportunities for publishers and more choice and flexibility for consumers. This convergence of the broadcast and podcast worlds represents both an opportunity for existing audio publishers and a transitional moment for traditional broadcasters.
Podcast Listening Trends
Before we explore this more, let’s set the scene with the latest podcast listening trends.
As seen in this chart from Chartable, the rise of daily news podcasts being produced in the US reflects the increasingly habitual nature of podcast listening.
This trend is now being followed around the world as well. Here in Australia for example, print publisher Schwartz Media has recently released 7am — a daily news podcast. Mamamia also launched a daily news podcast called The Quicky in 2019 as well.
And it’s the younger demographic that’s accelerating the current overall growth of daily podcast listening.
As a result, podcast advertising revenue is growing alongside overall listenership as well. The IAB and PwC show steady and impressive year over year growth and revenue projections in their latest 2019 Podcast Ad Revenue study for the US.
Radio Revenue and Audience
So while podcast listening is becoming more frequent and more revenue is being projected, in terms of reach — radio has not lost any ground. Here’s the audio reach from RAJAR in the UK which is similar across the globe.
And even though “over-the-air” sales dropped 1.6% in 2018 for US radio — an 8.1% increase year-over-year in digital ad sales, to $923 million, helped offset this to bring in a total revenue haul of $14.2 billion dollars for the year. Again, podcasts are expected to reach $1 billion dollars in ad revenue by 2021 in the US.
Needless to say — radio companies globally are in a very good position to take ownership of this gradual growth in podcasting. On the content side, they have the equipment, talent and producers; and on the business side , the sales staff and connections already in place to sell advertising.
The Convergence: “Augmented Live”
The first Omny product was ‘Omny Radio’ — a personalised, ‘augmented live’ listening experience where you could listen to your favourite radio show segments broken up by your favourite music and localised news. While Omny Radio was too ahead of it’s time to survive, ‘augmented live’ experiences are starting to surface.
Spotify has just launched Spotify Stations which allows listeners to have a lean-back music listening experience for free. This is the first step towards negating ‘the radio’s’ main advantage over ‘the smartphone’ — which is mainly that it’s super-easy to switch on a radio and start listening whereas it’s more difficult to choose what to listen to.
On top of this — and possibly most alarmingly for radio stations that are currently resting on their laurels — Spotify have just taken direct aim at radio by launching a new playlist called Your Daily Drive that incorporates news podcasts and music.
By setting up podcasting processes and infrastructure now, radio stations are setting themselves up for new listening experiences. Ford’s Head of Business Development, Scott Burnell, recently touched on this when he spoke on the Inside Radio podcast.
“Because the content consumption outside the vehicle is changing rapidly. That’s the habit that somebody brings into the vehicle.”
When you look at radio’s strong-hold on car listening you can see why this might be a focus for Spotify and what the bigger picture is.
And while the car is still live radio’s home-ground. Spotify (there they are again!) are reportedly also testing the “car thing” — a voice-controlled smart assistant for cars.
Don’t forget, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek is expecting podcasting to account for 20% of Spotify’s streamed content…
It’s an exciting time for audio listeners and publishers alike. As audio technology advances — the only definite winner here will be the listeners who are more spoilt for choice than ever.