The Promising Future of Podcasts

The advent of Wi-Fi enabled cars marks a new technology disruption – one that will kill radio as we know it. But it opens a world of possibilities for On Demand Audio.

What is On-Demand Audio?

On Demand Audio lets you listen to what you want when you want. Streaming music and radio services exist in abundance. Here is a small sample:

Pandora iHeart Radio iTunes Radio Rhapsody Spotify Google Play all Access Slacker TuneIn Radio Rdio Songza Stitcher iTunes Podcasts

What is the potential of On-Demand Audio?

The short answer – it’s huge. And when you combine it with the Driverless Car it’s mind boggling.

Driverless Cars will offer big entertainment opportunities since the Driver’s attention will no longer be required.

Some Driver’s will want to watch video but many will want to listen to audio since staring at a screen in a moving car can be a nausea inducing experience.

GeoData and Customization

What’s is exciting about On Demand Audio is the ability to combine it with new technologies like geodata. Some visionary companies like Rivet News Radio have already spotted the possibilities.

The Rivet Radio App can be integrated with car entertainment systems directly or in conjunction with a Smartphone. It uses geodata and user preferences to provide customized, targeted radio news.

According to a recent article in, “if you live in San Diego, you will get news relevant to San Diego, specifically the neighbourhoods, you”re driving through instead of hearing what’s happening in Duluth, Minnesota.’

Niche Audio Content

The ability for users to get highly customized content will create an appetite for audio content that addresses specific interests. This is a perfect market for podcasts since they have always provided niche audio content.

A recent podcast, called Serial , focused on the investigation of a murder in Baltimore in 1999. Over 12 episodes it explored the question of whether high school student Adnan Syed, the man convicted of the murder of his girlfriend and classmate, Hae Min Lee, actually did it.

To those of us who listened to Serial , a production of This American Life, it was an addictive experience. And the market agreed. According to Apple it was the fastest podcast to reach 5 million downloads and streams in iTunes history.

Market Growth for Podcasts

RawVoice, which tracks 20,000 shows, said the number of unique monthly podcast listeners has tripled to 75 million from 25 million five years ago.

Edison Research found that 15% of Americans aged 12+ had listened to a podcast in the last month.

Clearly, this is a market with huge potential for growth.

The Economics of Podcasts

Podcasts are a boon for advertisers. Since people listen to them while they are doing other things they are less likely to skip the ads. For instance, I listen while I do my morning run so I am not going to stop my run to fiddle with my phone in order to skip an ad. And if I did there is no easy way to skip ahead to the end of the ad.

According to Andrew Sachs, CEO of Midroll Media, an ad sales network, “Podcast listeners also tend to trust and like the host so the ads sound more like a friend’s recommendation”. Internal Midroll surveys of 300,000 listeners found that 63% of people bought something a host had advertised on his show.

Not only is there a high engagement level with ads but there is the ability to highly target ads because very granular demographic data is available. And conversions can be easily tracked by sending listeners to a custom download page to take advantage of an advertiser’s offer. Facebook has already demonstrated the enormous success of this business model.

A highly successful podcast can easily support itself through ad revenue and spin offs such as merchandise or events.

The Challenge for Podcasters

While there is a phenomenal opportunity for podcasters there are huge challenges. As more and more podcasts become available it will be hard to get an audience.

Podcasters who do not have large organizations behind them will have to do their own promotion and distribution through channels like iTunes, Stitcher, SoundCloud, LibSyn or Blubrry.

Getting your podcast noticed is hard work. According to statistics released by Apple in 2013 there were 250,000 podcasts in 100 languages in the iTunes store.

That’s an old statistic and does not account for podcasts available through other services.

That is why you often hear podcast hosts asking listeners to rate and review their podcasts on various podcast services like iTunes or Stitcher. Hosts who already have a platform will be at a significant advantage.

As we covered in a previous post, the ability to Bring Your Own Audience is becoming increasingly important to success in the online world.

My Predictions

I believe that the Podcast market is about to explode. The technology disruption of On Demand Audio coupled with the powerful advertising model make the time ripe for Podcasts.

As an avid podcast listener, I am incredibly excited to see what innovative podcasts will come onto the scene.

If you haven’t already done so, I encourage you to explore the world of podcasts. You can find a list of a few of my favorite podcasts and some podcast resources here.

Do you share my optimism for Podcasts? What are your Favorite Podcasts? Leave me a comment.