“Podcast fever” in the West

The word “podcast” appeared 15 years ago and refers to a series of broadcast programs on a certain topic that can be listened to, downloaded and subscribed to.
Fifteen years later, “sound media” represented by podcasting is becoming the hottest topic and a world-class phenomenon in western media.
Industry surveys show that about 90 million people in the United States listen to at least one podcast program per month. In the UK, the use of podcasts in 2019 has increased by 40% compared with 2018, and the main increase comes from the younger generation who want to get information and pleasure from it.
At the same time, advertisers are allocating more budget to podcasting, while investors are pouring money into start-up podcasting companies.
As a result, professional podcasts have proliferated and media organizations are also launching their own podcasts. The most successful case is the “The Daily” program of the new york Times, which already has an average of 2 million listeners a day and considerable advertising revenue.
Not long ago, we conducted research and interviews on the most popular podcast programs in five major western countries-Britain, the United States, Australia, France and Sweden-and 30 mainstream newspapers, magazines, television stations and streaming media platforms, in order to deeply analyze the current “podcast craze” in the west.
Research shows that news podcasts are the most important podcasts of all kinds. Although the number of news podcasts is not prominent, they are influential, accounting for one fifth (21%) of the most popular podcasts in the United States.
Among them, interviews and talk shows are the most popular forms, and in-depth “news talk” and daily news sorting are also common.
We also found that news podcasts run by print media prefer to do in-depth “news talk” because they can “conveniently” use written reports. News podcasts made by TV media and radio stations often repackage the original programs into short and pithy “news points”. Meanwhile, in-depth programs are outsourced to professional podcast producers to attract people who do not like watching TV and listening to radio, such as young people.
In the United States, podcasting has brought considerable profits to the media.
Slate, a well-known online magazine, already earns more than half of its advertising revenue from its podcast programs. NPR expects to earn US$ 55 million from podcasting programs in 2020, surpassing its main business of broadcasting.
The media operators interviewed told us that podcasting is a good way to build brand awareness and loyalty besides bringing benefits, which can bring long-term returns to the media.
At present, in the highly competitive podcasting market, new competitors are still joining in.
Apple podcast platform is still the main channel for many people to listen to podcasts, but the market share of streaming media platform spotify has doubled in the past year. Other paid podcast programs have appeared, adopting a model similar to Netflix to produce exclusive content to provide users with more unique information.
Most of the interviewed media and experts believe that podcasting still has significant room for growth in the future because of its “convenience”-people can easily hear what they want to get at home and when they go out.
Judging from the content classification, besides regular news podcasts, there is still much room for development in comedy, sports, lifestyle and high-quality news podcasts.