Working through the noise. You’re not the BBC and that’s good!

There will come a time in your podcasting journey when, as a listener, you hear a huge promotion by a behemoth. This can be disheartening. A massive old world media company has decided to launch into the podcasting sphere. “Oh no, I’m about to be swamped. No one will ever hear my show!” or something similar will run through your mind.

Stand firm! Remember how podcasting works. This wonderful medium is not about mass communication, it is not broadcasting, it is narrowcasting. We serve a niche. The more niche, the better, up to a point. It is possible to niche down to a point where there may only be three or four people in the world interested. Say, royal tennis championships in Scandinavia during the 1930s. That may be an interesting PhD dissertation but it is unlikely to be a successful podcast. I’d love one of you to prove me wrong but you get the point. Niche, very niche but not too niche.

That being said, the metrics driving institutions like the BBC, the ABC, the CBC, NPR and whatever local version of public radio exists in your part of the world are not likely to be the same as the metrics driving you. They are driving for listener numbers to sell to advertisers. You are giving value to build a tribe of rabid, fanatical fans.

The advertising that does turn up on the shows these public broadcasters produce is never relevant to me. The point of podcasting into a niche means you have people listening who have a common interest. I have no desire to ever hear another ad for an Australian bank, ever. We haven’t yet received the final report from the Royal Commission into banking and financial services here in Australia but I can tell you the banks will come out of it smelling of manure.

Equally, I’m not looking for a bed or pre-prepared meals or someone to dress me to my styling tastes. I do listen to a wide variety of podcasts and would love to see what products an algorithm would suggest for me. History books, solopreneur tools, organic gardening skill sets and philosophy products spring to mind. You’ll see these have very little to do with banks or bedding. The advertising being foisted on us by the big old world media types points to reasons we don’t need to fear them. They are broad and we are narrow.

“But I see Apple giving priority to shows on Apple Podcasts from these organisations, probably in return for cash.” This may well be true. It still doesn’t matter. The latest research I heard but can’t place at the moment stated that 83% of podcast discovery was by word of mouth. That is, from friends/family or listening to podcasts and following up guests and so on. The Apple Podcast/iTunes searching process was about 17% of the discovery process. So all the money in he word won’t get you much more than a fifth of the discovery process. These stats also call into question the standard: “Please rate and review us as this is how new people find us.” No they don’t, they just don’t.

Podcasting reviews and ratings are great for social proof but they are not like Amazon

Do not be depressed, do not feel downtrodden when the behemoths turn up in your niche. They will rarely hit upon your niche but they will be bring new listeners to the podcasting space. And the more listeners in total, the better it is for the medium.


  • Big media companies will come to podcasting
  • They do not understand the medium
  • Stay niche, serve your listeners
  • Be happy with any new listeners these old media types bring to the sector and your show