Commentary

How Big Is The Podcasting Market For Publishers?

Publishers coping with changing media consumption habits may want to parlay their editorial strengths into the burgeoning field of podcasting. Unlike visual media like text or video, which require a viewer's full attention, on-demand audio content on mobile devices can reach people while they're doing something else throughout the day.
That opens up huge possibilities for publishers seeking to carve out a space in the attention economy and post-literate world. People need audio content to fill the hours. They can wear popular headphone devices, like Apple's AirPods, or listen to Amazon Echo smart speakers. As more carmakers equip vehicles with infotainment dashboards, the audience for on-demand audio likely will grow.
Barry McCarthy, CFO of audio streaming giant Spotify, recently predicted audio streaming will be bigger than video streaming in five years because of its greater versatility and portability. Before joining Spotify, McCarthy had been CFO of Netflix for eight years, giving him a look at both streaming formats. 
The podcasting audience grew 26% in the past year to reach more than half of Americans ages 12 or older, according to Edison Research. Online audio listeners spend an average of 17 hours a week streaming the content, which is especially popular with younger audiences.

A key advantage for publishers is their familiarity with the needs of their audiences and advertisers, helping them to shape programming for an audio format that's much less expensive to produce than it used to be. The accessibility of the format means that almost anybody can start podcasting, but the challenge is to keep it going with fresh content week after week. Publishers can thrive in that environment.

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Already, traditional publishers have created podcasts that are getting attention.

Apple listed two programs by The New York Times -- "The Daily" offers top news and "1619" aims to reframe the history of slavery in America -- among its top podcasts of 2019. National Geographic's "Overheard at National Geographic," which features conversations with explorers, photographers and scientists who contribute to its magazines and websites, also got high marks from Apple.

The field is still wide open for more publishers to extend their reach among a growing audience and to capture a greater share of sponsorship dollars being plowed into podcasting.

Podcasting ad revenue is forecast to more than double — from $314 million in 2017 to $659 million next year — according to the Internet Advertising Bureau, a growth trajectory that may compensate for declining print ad sales among some publishers.

2 comments about "How Big Is The Podcasting Market For Publishers?".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, December 11, 2019 at 9:05 a.m.

    Just to clarify, the Edison study cited, reported that only 22% of its respondents aged 12+ claimed to have listened to a podcast at least once in the past week. Extending the questions to a month and "ever" the percentages went up to 32% and 51%, respectively. Needless to say, it's not right to claim that half of the population are now podcast listeners based on an "ever" listened question.Interestingly, the amount of time spent with podcasts was not reported---or asked? Instead, those who claimed to have listened in the past week were asked how many podcasts this involved---the average figure being seven podcasts listened to by those who listened at all ( 22% ). My point is that while podcasts are a growing form of audio consumption and can be a very effective marketing tool for advertisers---in my opinion, let's not go too far overboard with the stats. Good potential, yep. Growing, yep. But that's all. It should be enough.

  2. Robert Williams from Mediapost replied, December 11, 2019 at 11:29 a.m.

    Ed,
    Thanks for the insights -- they'll inform my future reporting on the topic of podcasting.
    Rob

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