I once made the mistake of dating a guy who lived six hours away from me in San Francisco. Since I’m a millennial who earned a degree in a field that offers little money and as a result my bank account is low, I often found myself driving to the Bay Area to see my beau instead of paying for expensive flights. Long hours in my car meant horrible, off key singing at the top of my lungs, endless phone calls with anybody who would entertain me and my saving grace: podcasts.
My love for podcasts developed on these long rides and now I find myself listening to them whenever I’m driving, doing busy work like folding laundry or on the rare occasion that I end up running on the treadmill. While I may be alone in my determination to drive countless hours for a relationship, I am not alone in liking podcasts, the rapidly growing medium that information and stories are being presented on.
In fact, 67 million Americans listen to podcasts monthly, according to the latest Edison Research report. That number has grown by 14% since last year. My favorite podcast, Serial, has even earned 100 million downloads alone.
It might come as a surprise that people are taking such a liking to podcast listening, considering generations today are now obsessed with staring at their screens. Or, perhaps that’s one of the exact reasons as to why podcasting is growing. Maybe people are starting to exhaust themselves from constantly looking at a screen and are seeking a break. Either way, there are quite a few remaining reasons that point to why podcasts are becoming media’s latest obsession.
Content is Improving
Podcasting, like any medium, is only as good as the content put out into the world through it.
Today, some of Hollywood’s top celebrities have their own podcasts. Anna Faris will make you cry laugh if you listen to her Anna Faris is Unqualified, Anderson Cooper’s Anderson Cooper 360 keeps you up to date with world happenings and even Shaq put his baller skills to the audio test in The Big Podcast With Shaq – fitting name. These podcasts are delivering stories, advice and information that is worth the listen and because of it, podcasting is drawing in more listeners every day.
With more talent coming to the podcasting sphere, there are also more reasons as to why tuning into a podcast is worthwhile. For one, it’s simply another way that us little folk can connect with our favorite personalities. If you’re a basketball fan it’s a safe bet you’ll enjoy listening to Shaq riff with Justin Bieber.
Podcasting is also a source of inspiration. Popular shows like How I Built This give listeners an inside look at some of the greatest innovators and thought leaders of our time. I dare you not to want to go out and start your own company after tuning in for a few minutes.
“There’s a very real business here that people haven’t been paying attention to,” he tells me. “Studios, directors and producers—really the whole TV and film community—is coming to see podcasting as a treasure trove of great stories and storytellers,” says Chris Gilberti, Head of Multiplatform at podcast production company Gimlet Media.
Or, for people who are tired of turning on their TVs for the 6 o’clock news and are looking for more lively and less dreary ways to obtain their news, podcasting is also a great alternative. New York Times podcast The Daily, keeps you up to date on the fast changing political news of our time. For news junkies, there’s even a show that gives listeners 5 minutes of news every hour on NPR’s Hourly News Summary.
Content isn’t the only thing drawing in listeners. A huge upside to podcasting is that it is mobile. Podcasts can be listened to in your car, over your headphones or anywhere you are on the go. New shows can be downloaded with click of a button and within seconds you have the voices of thousands of podcasters coming through your device.
We live in a mobile age filled with people who never sit down or rest. That’s why mobile phones are now a form of technology that we couldn’t imagine our lives without and it’s why podcasting became easily popular too.
For creators, podcasting is also a welcomed medium to be on. Creating a podcast requires a good mic, quiet room and some self taught editing. People with zero prior experience can simply sit down, start talking and go from there. Sure, quality of a show is improved when more time is put into editing the audio or more money is spent on equipment, but to get started, the process is fairly simple.
Unlike YouTubers who need cameras, lighting, microphones, editing software and more to create caliber videos, podcasts are heard and not seen, saving a lot of money for content producers.
With that, podcasts also can generate higher revenue, again making it a popular outlet for creators to be on. The
average CPM for a successful podcast can range anywhere from $20 to $45 while web ads make around $1 to $20 and TV ads generate $5 to $20. Podcasting can be a lucrative option when done right.
Podcasting is also growing due to the fact that investment is increasing. Last year, Gimlet Media raised $6 million in funding and a new network, Wondery launched with over $1 million in funding. The money is there and because of it, more podcasts are able to be put out to the public.
And finally, as technologies continue to advance, podcast distribution will only benefit as well.
Currently, 80% of podcasts are listened to via iOS devices. But, since Android is actually America’s largest smartphone platform, there is room for listening growth. So, as Chris Gilberti believes, ways in which podcasts can be listened to can only go up from here as Android listening increases. Google’s podcasting service through their Play app is imminent, meaning there will be yet another way for people to obtain their podcasts.
Don’t forget platforms like Spotify, which launched their podcasting service in 2016. As methods of distribution grow, so will podcasting.
It’s a safe bet that podcasting will only continue to reach greater listeners and that more and more people will now be taking their talents to the medium. For someone who finds themselves on long drives, this expansion is incredibly welcomed.
Want to know more? Here’s how we produce podcasts at Red Cup Agency.