It seems like there’s a day set aside for just about everything. From Chocolate Parfait Day to National Life Insurance Day, just about every category gets its 24-hour moment in the sun. Last month, we celebrated National Radio Day, an event that triggered a lot of readership on this blog as well as much social media activity.
But you might not be aware that today is International Podcast Day, an event that began two years ago. According to the website, its mission is to “help spread the word! IPD is devoted to promoting Podcasting worldwide through eduation and public engagement.” You can follow the festivities all day using this hashtag: #podcastday
There is a plethora of buzz and a growing mountain of data these days about podcasting. Whether its usage information or revenue potential, everyone’s weighing in with research to help us better define and understand the space – what it is today and what it promises to be down the road.
A recent study by Bridge Ratings breaks it down very comprehensively. In fact, they call it an audit, and that’s an accurate term for this assessment of podcasting content, usage, and revenue projections. One of the more interesting aspects of this analysis is its look at podcasting’s potential to go beyond baseline growth and truly achieve mass appeal by 2020.
Bridge Ratings’ Dave Van Dyke pins that possibility on higher consumption of podcasts in cars (a very good possibility) as well as a continued influx of strong radio personalities shifting to the podcast format.
But there may be an additional factor involved – and that boils down to strategy. While there are some amazing podcasts pulling in enthusiastic consumers, many of the top podcasts each week are simply repurposed radio shows, whether it’s the podcast version of WRIF’s Dave & Chuck the Freak Show or NPR’s Fresh Air.
In our most recent Public Radio Techsurvey8, we asked regular podcast users about the types of on-demand audio they prefer:
Not surprisingly, podcasts that essentially make it easy to listen to existing shows – like “Fresh Air” or “This American Life” – lead the way. But given the flurry of activity in the space, you can expect that orange bar to steadily decrease as more and more original podcasting content is produced. While time-shifting radio shows has been the format that has enabled radio to score big points on podcasting download rankers, the future is the creation of original content. And these days, it seems like every time you turn around, someone is launching a new podcasting initiative.
And this activity is happening in many different quarters. We’ve highlighted WNYC Studios’ activity in our “Radio’s Most Innovative” series. Their mission is “Reinventing audio for a new generation of listeners around the world,” and original podcasts like “Death, Sex, And Money” and “2 Dope Queens” are doing just that. Our interview with mastermind Dean Cappello is a Podcasting 101 lesson in how to craft and curate podcasting content.
The brilliance of WNYC’s strategy is that it allows them to stretch the conventional boundaries of a public radio news/talk station into areas they wouldn’t touch in a PPM world. Innovative podcasts true to the brand’s values, while expanding programming into new and different areas and topics is what the podcasting opportunity is all about for legacy radio brands.
Then there’s Audible, a division of Amazon that used to just be about talking books. But today, Audible is creating original on-demand programming, available on a subscription basis. This past summer at Podcast Movement, Audible SVP of Original Content Development, Eric Nuzum, explained the essence of Audible’s initiative is to “create best-in-class audio programs, then connect them to the audience most likely to love them.”
And those shows are beginning to roll out, including the innovative “Presidents Are People, Too” and “Mortal City.” The Audible model looks very much like what Netflix has done, providing a large library of content mixed in with smart, high quality original programming.
Finally, a very familiar mega-media brand – ESPN – is stepping out into the podcast space in a big way. Adweek reports the sports giant will launch a podcast version of their high quality “30 For 30” TV documentaries that will provide sports fans with a level of content they never hear on the typical SportsTalk station.
Senior producer at ESPN Films and FiveThirtyEight, Jody Avirgan, notes the company is going all-out to produce these podcasts, including hiring a group of five producers skilled at documentary making. The bottom line is these podcasts will take a journalistic approach to sports storytelling – something fresh and different for the genre. This initiative also suggests that podcasting content can benefit from being inherently different from the on-air and web product.
These are all bold concepts, signaling a level of professionalism and craft that is often missing from the Wild West podcasting space. But they all have something else in common – the masterminds between all three of these initiatives are deeply rooted in the public radio space. WNYC’s Dean Cappellos heads up his company’s innovative podcast vision, Eric Nuzum is the former VP of Programming at NPR, and Jody Arvigan is another WNYC alum.
This doesn’t mean it’s mandatory for any major podcast launch to have someone in charge who hails from public radio. But it suggests that sustained success in the podcasting space, combined with the ability to produce long-form programs and great storytelling content, aren’t just everyday, ordinary skills. There’s are reasons why public radio has excelled in this space, and that’s why so many of the biggest players seeking to make a podcasting impact are seeking that DNA.
Adweek’s Christopher Heine believes “It’s the new golden age of audio.”
We’re in agreement, and that’s why we invite you to celebrate International Podcasting Day today by listening to a few podcasts and reading up about why this platform is generating buzz and revenue.
And if you’d like to check out our DASH podcast series produced by Seth Resler, you can listen here:
Jacobs Media has consistently walked the walk in the digital space, providing insights and guidance through its well-read national Techsurveys.
In 2008, jacapps was launched - a mobile apps company that has designed and built more than 1,000 apps for both the Apple and Android platforms. In 2013, the DASH Conference was created - a mashup of radio and automotive, designed to foster better understanding of the "connected car" and its impact.
Along with providing the creative and intellectual direction for the company, Fred consults many of Jacobs Media's commercial and public radio clients, in addition to media brands looking to thrive in the rapidly changing tech environment.