Video didn’t kill the radio star

Improvements in connectivity and technological innovations are helping popularize podcasts

By Sarah Emler, contributor, Reuters Community
More people are listening to news again. And it is podcasts that they are craving. Whether in the car, commuting on the train or while cleaning at home, these times offer perfect opportunities to listen to the news. Progress in technology––voice-activated speakers or better WiFi-connection––made easy-access possible and helped increase distribution.

Better connectivity led to an explosion of podcasts

This year’s Digital News Report found that more than two-thirds of their group were using podcasts monthly. Voice-activated-speakers appearing at home, such as Amazon Echo and Google Home, and noise-canceling headphones have been a success on the market, lending credit to the argument that accessibility has been the catalyst for evolving preferences. “One theory is that podcasts tend to perform best in countries like the US (33%) and Australia (33%) where people spend a lot of time in their cars”, states the report.

Youngsters love podcasts

The report found a significant difference between the age and the location of podcast listeners. “Proportionally, under 35s listen to twice as many podcasts as over 45s. Older groups, by contrast, remain more likely to listen to radio.”

In a talk, Nic Newman mentioned that the younger generation listens to multiple podcasts because the producer does not matter as much as the content.The primary reason they listen to podcasts is for the information.

“Overall, a third of our sample (34%) listens to a news-related podcast at least monthly, but there are significant country differences.” The report sees a correlation with heavy smartphone use, as in South Korea (58%) and Taiwan (55%) or the time spent in a car, as it is common in the US and Australia.

 

Easy discovery through voice-activated speakers

The appearance of voice-activated speakers has popularized podcasts, as it’s where people can easily access existing podcasts or listen to  news briefings. “Almost half (43%) access news in some way (flash briefing or similar). Weather is popular (67%), while six in ten (61%) access quick facts. More than one in ten (14%) say they use the device to listen to podcasts.”

…almost until the end!

Some radio stations offer their shows on-demand, such as the BBC with its iPlayer or NPR. Other news organizations have created series of podcasts, such as “The Daily” by The New York Times. “Data suggests that most podcasts are listened to for at least 90% of their duration, giving the lie to the view that young people have minimal attention spans. With advertising spend on podcasts in the United States rising to $220m, there’s significant commercial opportunity for publishers as well as a route to attracting hard-to-reach millennials.”

 

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