Has podcasting’s moment finally arrived?

Spotify’s announcement that it has bought two major podcasting companies, Gimlet and Anchor, as well as assigning $500 million for similar deals, has generated much comment on the future of an activity that despite what some listeners and podcasters say to the contrary, still has huge growth potential.

Podcasting has been around since the beginning of the century, steadily growing in popularity. The idea it was the next big thing was what originally led Ev Williams, Noah Glass, Jack Dorsey and Biz Stone to found Odeo, a company that, following Apple’s decision to include podcast subscriptions in iTunes, completely changed their goal and resulted in Twitter. In hindsight, it seems clear that, in reality, iTunes did not drive the popularity of podcasts, with video far outstripping the medium.

For Spotify, diversifying away from music toward the many forms of radio seems natural and the announcement could boost the potential and popularity of podcasting thanks to Spotify’s reach and the possibilities of its internal search tools and popularity algorithms. The inclusion among your Spotify recommendations of not only artists and songs, but also podcasts, will help raise awareness of particular podcasts and hopefully encourage more people to acquire the podcast habit, which in turn could be combined with monetization formulas for creators.

At the same time, if, as everything seems to indicate, the acquisition increases Gimlet and Anchor’s popularity and more people start listening to podcasts, that raises questions about the future of an ecosystem that until now has been open: Spotify says it will not put any of Gimlet and Anchors’ existing podcasts behind a payment wall, but in the future, the idea will surely be to create an ecosystem for podcast creators similar to that for musicians on the streaming network, providing remuneration based on popularity.

Do you listen to podcasts regularly? Has the moment come when, thanks to Spotify, podcasting goes global, or is this another false alarm?

(En español, aquí)