Publishers that are debating whether to start a podcast should consider several developments this week that indicate growing interest in the portable audio format. Podcasting is growing as the
coronavirus pandemic disrupts media consumption habits, including drive-time radio listening.
Apple started a daily podcast called "Apple News Today,"
while its Apple News+ digital newsstand began
streaming audio versions of stories from magazines such as Esquire, Essence, GQ, Sports Illustrated, Time, Vanity Fair
, along with newspapers including the Los Angeles
and The Wall Street Journal.
It's interesting that Apple sees value in turning magazine content into an aural experience, which is a good idea. It gives
iPhone users a way to consume content from almost anywhere.
Even if fewer people are driving to the office, they can still listen to podcasts while doing other activities, like household
chores, exercising or just relaxing. The big question is how long those habits will last.
National Public Radio this week provided some dramatic evidence of how much people's
consumption habits have changed during the pandemic. Its podcast downloads and app usage climbed by about 25% in the second quarter from a year earlier, partly offsetting a steep loss in its radio
audience, NPR media reporter David Folkenflik reported this week.
For the first time, the broadcaster is likely to make more money from podcasts than from conventional radio
shows, even as its total sponsorship revenue drops by $23 million this year. NPR last year had projected that podcasting revenue
would overtake radio, and
the pandemic appears to have hastened that shift toward digital audio.
These developments follow Omnicom Media Group's announcement last week that it planned to spend $20
million for ad placements in Spotify's podcasts during the second half of the year.
The commitment to podcasting from a major media agency is a strong sign that advertisers
see the audio format as a promising promotional channel that publishers should consider developing.