Podcasting is a BIG business – But just how BIG?
These days, everyone seems to have a favorite podcast. In fact, many people even know someone who hosts their own podcast – but many of those are minor, with only a handful of listeners. The question remains, though, what sets the big names in podcasting apart from the big players, and how can creators grow their listenership? As with most things, it all comes down to data.
It can be difficult to gather data on podcasts for several reasons. In particular, their availability varies widely; some are platform-exclusive or only available on a few streaming services. As a result, many estimates focus on specific streaming services instead of trying to track every program.
For example, while some researchers estimate that there are about 1.75 million podcasts total, as of January 2021, Podcast Insights reports 43 million episodes on Apple Podcasts. That’s a lot of podcasts, and we can be sure plenty are missing, and new ones are popping up every day.
Just as differences between platforms make it hard for researchers to pin down how many podcasts there are in total, the divisions can also make it difficult for creators to estimate how their podcast is performing. For example, creators who use Google Podcast can use the service’s Podcast Manager to see what devices listeners are using, what kinds of ads are likely to be most successful, and other insights. Google Podcast isn’t especially popular compared to platforms like Spotify and Apple, which limits this tool’s value – and they’re likely to lose out even further, with Amazon in talks to buy Wondery.
Given the many divisions in podcast hosting and streaming, creators need a centralized way to home in on listener data – and that’s what Backtracks does by using Open Podcast Analytics. And because this is an open source tool, rather than a branded one, Backtracks can examine audio and listener data across streaming platforms. That lets creators and publishers centralize insights for better growth and monetization.
Peak Time For Podcasts
Podcasts have been experiencing rapid growth for several years, but one of the sector’s biggest developments was an unexpected one: the COVID-19 pandemic. However, while plenty of people have confessed to their other media “binges” during this period, like the “Tiger King” phenomenon of the first weeks of quarantine, podcasts thrive on word of mouth promotion.
Furthermore, they’ve managed to attract significant new listenership abroad, especially in China. Wherever listeners are located, though, their popularity makes sense, as people seek new forms of media engagement to fill their days at home.
In addition to international audience growth, podcast creators should pay attention to supplementary metrics as well. Pre-pandemic, and especially among heavy listeners, people were more likely to listen to podcasts away from home. Light users, however, have always tended toward at-home listening, and it appears that smart speaker use could increase that rate among all users.
These metrics offer useful insights into how people interact with podcasts, and in such a quickly evolving industry, the more creators know, the greater their edge – and there’s a lot of competition to contend with.