Is Anyone Listening To Podcasts In Thailand?

There’s clearly a lot of news and hype surrounding podcasting (again) these days. But my own selfish interests are focused on SE Asia — Thailand, specifically. How do I reconcile the US-dominated data and get a real picture of how the people in my adopted country are taking to podcasting? Well… I ask. It’s good to have friends behind-the-scenes.

Listen to me narrate this article to you!

We are not legion… yet!

As the self-appointed podcast evangelist of Bangkok, I’ve actively cultivated a list of Bangkok-based podcasters in an attempt to foster communication within the creators. My very unsophisticated method was searching “podcast” on LinkedIn, filtering for people who lived in Bangkok. Not surprisingly, the number of results wasn’t vast, so it was simple enough to reach out to everyone, explain who I was and why was reaching out, and then asking them to join a dedicated LINE group. A very small LINE group. (Why LINE? Because this is Thailand, and LINE is huge over here. And I need learn it better.)

While wrangling local creators is a good idea, it’s not the prize. When I’m talking about podcasting to Asia-based clients, they often ask how many podcasts are produced in their respective countries and/or cities. But that’s not really important. What is important is how many people in their local trade area are listening.

It’s easy to get people excited by showing podcasting’s penetration on par with Twitter. But I know those numbers are heavily dominated by the US, and the penetration numbers over here are probably vastly different. And it’s highly unlikely that Edison or any other market research company is going to conduct a solid survey of podcast penetration in Thailand anytime soon. Which brings me back to asking friends.

Last week, I called in a personal favor from Blubrry, one of the largest podcast hosting companies, when I asked Todd & Angelo to tell me what they could about podcast consumption numbers for Thailand. As one of the big podcast hosting companies, they have statistics on where downloads actually occurred, which is a lot better than self-reported surveys.

Here’s what I learned:

  • Thailand ranks 35 out of the 240+ countries in these data. Put another way, that’s comfortably within the the top 20 worldwide, a great position for what is still a developing nation.
  • Podcast downloads originating in Thailand are on par with those originating from countries like Israel, Belgium and Portugal. I can personally name a couple of podcasts/podcasters in both Israel and Belgium, so I’m encouraged by that fact.
  • Podcast consumption in Thailand has grown every year, typically growing over 30% year over year. So far in 2017 it’s only 8% over last year, and I’m not sure what to make of that. It sure looks like slower growth, but I’m not ready to point out possible causes (saturation, lack of Thai-language content, seven months vs twelve, etc…). For now, it’s still growth.
  • Looking at Asia overall, the data show a 29% increase so far for 2017. That’s up from 18% growth for the prior y-o-y period, and maybe on par with the 44% growth seen the period two years prior. That’s impressive.
  • Asia’s overall podcast downloads are on par with both Canada and England. Yeah, I know the difference between continents and countries. But still…
  • The top 10 Asian countries ranked by their share of podcast downloads from Asia are as as follows:
  1. Japan 24%
  2. Hong Kong 18%
  3. China 15%
  4. Philippines 12%
  5. Singapore 7%
  6. Indonesia 6%
  7. Malaysia 6%
  8. Korea, Republic of 5%
  9. Thailand 4%
  10. ??? Oops! Looks like that info was left out of the data set. But I don’t care that much, as I’m interested in Thailand.

Looking at all of that, I’m pretty excited about the opportunities for podcasting in Asia, especially for clients who cater to the wider Asian audience.

There’s still plenty of questions unanswered and questions about this data, so don’t take anything above as the final say. It’s simply a starting place. More info and insight to come!


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About the author: Evo Terra (hey, that’s me!) was the 40th podcaster ever, though don’t hold that against him. He’s well-known for and quite proud of his contrarian opinion on all things podcasting. He founded one of the first not-really-podcasting-but-uses-podcasting-technology companies, is the author of Podcasting for Dummies and Expert Podcasting Practices for Dummies, and currently hosts the Bangkok Podcast and This One Time. Occasionally he pontificates on the future of media here on Medium. Give him a follow if that sounds like your thing.