The Rise of the Podcast

The Rise of the Podcast

By Catherine

As content creators in 2019, we’re no longer limited to just the written word (whether in digital or print). Video has definitely risen in popularity as an alternative – but that in itself is becoming saturated, making it increasingly difficult to cut through the noise to really reach consumers. And from a producer’s perspective, video is time consuming and often very expensive to make if you’re looking for a high production value.

Enter the rise of the podcast, which has been particularly notable over the last 5 years – and the last year in particular. A recent article from The Verge reports that digital streaming provider Spotify’s podcast audience has grown by over 50 percent since the previous quarter of 2019, and has almost doubled since the start of the year.

The article also notes that over the same time period, Spotify saw podcast subscriber numbers grow by 9 percent overall, and that monthly active users have grown to 232 million, an increase of 7 percent year on year. This is impressive growth by anyone’s standards – but what’s fuelling it?

“One reason is that the format is uniquely situated to fit into our busy lives,” says podcast author Carrie Ryan, in a 2018 Quora interview. “Any topic you’re interested in? You’ll find a podcast dedicated to it. Only have fifteen minutes to spare? You’ll find a podcast that you can listen to in that time frame. Prefer stories? There are podcasts written to scratch that narrative itch. Prefer news? Nonfiction? Science? Politics? You’ll find a podcast that fits.”

But these benefits could also be applied to written content: you can also find articles on every topic imaginable that are easy to consume and interesting to read. One difference, Ryan notes, is that the format of a podcast makes it both information and entertainment presented in digestible chunks. It also allows deep dives into particular subjects if the podcast is serialised. “While many of us might not take the time to sit down and read a 20 000 word length article, we can listen to that article in bite-sized chunks during our commute to work, especially if it’s presented in an entertaining, narrative way,” she says. As Ryan alludes to, as opposed to reading a book or a written article, podcasts can be listened to while doing another activity – such as exercising, commuting or doing housework for example. And because it’s accessible via our mobile devices, it makes the format completely portable and easy to fit into the average busy modern life.

The Infinite Dial survey of 2019, released by US-based audio technology company Edison Research and advertising agency Triton Digital, found that in the US alone, more than half the population has listened to a podcast in their lives, and nearly one out of three listen to at least one per month. In addition, the number of young and old podcasters is also increasing: the report found that forty percent of people between the ages of 12 and 24 had listened to a podcast in the last month, which is a 10 percent jump from 2018. On the other side of the spectrum, listeners older than 55 who have traditionally been slower in adopting the medium are now catching up. The report found that 17 percent of people in that age group now identify themselves as monthly podcast listeners, as opposed to 13 percent a year ago.

For businesses and brands, the rapid increase in the popularity of podcasts presents a golden opportunity for them to engage meaningfully with their target market. For some brands, it’s not feasible to produce the podcasts themselves, so they may sponsor or partner with an existing podcast creator. However brands choose to get involved, the growth trend is only likely to increase – meaning more potential customers on the medium – especially as more producers enter the space and create a greater volume and range of content.

Considering getting into the podcast space and looking for a content producer? Chat to us.

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