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
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.
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
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