LESSONS FROM KNIGHT INVESTMENTS IN DIGITAL AUDIO AND PODCASTING

Knight Foundation
Jan 26, 2017 · 27 min read

INTRODUCTION

Podcasting and other forms of on-demand digital audio are growing. Edison Research reports that, based on a survey conducted in January and February 2016, an estimated 155 million Americans over 12 had listened to some form of online radio in the preceding month, and 57 million had listened to a podcast.

KNIGHT FOUNDATION’S INVESTMENTS

Knight Foundation has invested in and worked with several major efforts to support journalism and public interest programming delivered via podcasting and to advance the digital transformation of audio content.

THE CHANGING CONTEXT

…reminds me of the launch of satellite radio and the fear that gripped public radio broadcasters as they imagined millions of listeners gravitating to satellite’s vast channel structure, built on a subscription model that felt a lot like “sustaining memberships” in price.

…is like the Wild West. The space is completely open. It’s competitive, but you can stake your claim and succeed.

…is like blogging in the 1990s. Any person with access to the tools can develop a memorable voice and a large reach. There are hundreds of blogs on every niche subject imaginable. No one had a blog, then everyone had one. The same is happening with podcasts.

…is like premium cable. Audiences are willing to subscribe and they listen fervently. When they find a new show they like, they’ll listen to every episode ever created.

…is like public radio back in the old days. It’s very uneven but it’s also very quirky and interesting. There are a few gems and a lot of garbage. It’s a place where a generation found its voice.

…is like Netflix or Spotify where you subscribe to gain access to a very large catalog larger than any you would assemble for yourself.

…is like the moment when newspapers had to be on the web. Suddenly there’s a whole new medium with new competencies and everyone feels they must be in the game.

While much ink has been spilled analyzing key developments, discussions with key players in the space — including Knight Foundation grantees and partners — surfaced 10 key themes of particular salience.

Of Americans age 12+ who listened to a podcast in the preceding month. (The Infinite Dial 2016. Edison Research and Triton Digital)

KNIGHT INVESTMENTS: KEY LESSONS

Knight Foundation has invested in and partnered with diverse players in the podcasting and on-demand audio marketplace. The foundation’s efforts address different approaches to providing quality content to listeners who are increasingly seeking digital audio in a mobile-centric environment. While these efforts are distinct and unique in their aims, scope and structure, they have yielded important insights and lessons.

CONCLUSION

Read the full report and Appendices here.

Informed and Engaged

Our goal is to foster informed and engaged communities…

Informed and Engaged

Our goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, which we believe are essential for a healthy democracy.

Knight Foundation

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Our goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, which we believe are essential for a healthy democracy. KF.org

Informed and Engaged

Our goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, which we believe are essential for a healthy democracy.