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57 learnings about podcasts and digital audio

Without preamble, and without organization (heh), here is a collection of notes and readings about podcasting and spoken word audio. The majority are copied verbatim and linked to their original sources. A small minority are in my own words, which start with “KG”.

Romania. In March the car market collapsed by 32.2%
Wednesday April 22, 2020

Romanian car market in March was hit by a large drop – worsening the already negative trend – as a national lockdown was declared on March 24, in order to slow down the spread of the Coronavirus. Indeed, in March sales collapsed 32.2% with 6.650 units sold, ending the Q1 at 27.973 (-21.9%).The post Romania. […]

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For context, I run an audio platform for Southeast Asia called Waves. You can email me with questions, additions, or find me lurking on Twitter too much these days.

Tranh cãi khi ứng dụng Google Map “báo” điểm bắn tốc độ, chốt CSGT
Wednesday December 11, 2019

Bản cập nhật Google maps mới ở Mỹ sẽ thêm tính năng để người dùng báo cáo các điểm có cảnh sát bắn tốc độ khi đang sử dụng tính năng dẫn đường. Tính năng mới này đã nhận được nhiều ý kiến trái chiều. Google Maps hiện vẫn là ứng dụng chỉ đường phổ […]

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The reach of radio for remote workers compared to non-remote associates is nearly identical—both at just over 95%. [Media Marketing]

All podcast hosts measure downloads differently. Ones using the standard (they may describe themselves as “IAB v2 compliant”) are roughly comparable: but even these podcast hosts do not have identical measurement mechanisms. Ones that don’t use the standard, most notably Soundcloud, may appear to give you four or five times the amount of downloads. They’re not: they’re just counting them differently [Podnews]

Chile. Covid-19 lockdown hit market down 72.7% in April
Monday May 25, 2020

Chilean Vehicles Market in April plummeted 72.7% with 8.893 sales, as lockdown measures imposed on late March were held through the month in order to contain the Covid-19 spread. Indeed, Year to Date figures were 85.099 (-32.8%).The post Chile. Covid-19 lockdown hit market down 72.7% in April appeared first on https://focus2move.com.

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KG: Castbox’s initial differences from other podcast apps: [GGV Capital]1. Better rankings – just prioritize more general interest shows2. Localization using Google Translate into 70 languages3. Better / prettier UI

“Do you ever listen to podcasts or watch TV/films at a faster speed than intended?”Of 1,505 responses, 79 percent chose the response “No, it’s an abomination,” while 16 percent said they did so for podcasts, and a total of 5 percent said they did so for films, television and podcasts [NYT]

Power consumers of podcasts already know that 1.5X speed is their friend. About half the people who use podcast app Overcast listen on Smart Speed, which gooses the audio by eliminating moments of silence. Ten percent of Audible listeners crank up the speed dial. And as online videos become an increasingly important platform for acquiring new skills, speedup behavior is edging into the mainstream. Nearly 10 percent of people watching Khan Academy videos view them faster than normal [Wired]

Last year, Mindshare did a neuroscience study comparing the emotional power of audiovisual stories to audio-only stories: they found audio alone has 89% of the emotional power of audiovisual. [Podnews]

But my hunch is that, while Spotify wants to maximize users, it doesn’t want to maximize usage. Why? Because unlike most aggregation platforms, its marginal cost grows with usage, meaning that — like MoviePass — its best customers are actually its worst customers. That’s why it’s struggling to generate profits, why it’s struggling to protect itself from rival streaming services and why it needs to become the pre-eminent platform for podcasts [Ben Robinson]

We saw 294,736 new podcasts appear in Apple Podcasts in 2019, publishing almost 16 million episodes — that’s a 35% increase in new shows and a nearly 60% increase in new episodes from 2018. [Chartable]

In 2019, we each spent $640 on digital subscriptions like streaming video and music services, cloud storage, dating apps and online productivity tools, according to an analysis for The New York Times by Mint, the online budgeting tool owned by Intuit, using data from millions of its users. That was up about 7 percent from $598 in 2017. [NYT]

I really wonder what percentage of YouTube is consumed audio-only, or at least audio-first (the visuals are playing, but the viewer isn’t really paying attention to them). I bet you it’s way higher than people think. The ability to keep YouTube playing while switching apps on mobile is a major selling point for their premium service; that’s explicit YouTube-as-radio use. We know that Music on YouTube is huge, but it’s not what I’m talking about. I mean: what percentage of all YouTube content, and of all streaming time, is content that’s mainly someone talking, saturating one single sense – your ears – and not much else important is really going on? [Alex Danco]

Nielsen Music and BuzzAngle both found that audio accounted for around 70% of total on-demand streams in the U.S. in 2019, with video comprising the remaining 30%. But Nielsen’s worldwide streaming data flips that ratio on its head: Out of the 5.1 trillion on-demand music streams generated globally in 2019, including U.S. plays, 66% came from video, while the remaining 33% came from audio. [NPR]

U.S. radio stations generated about $13.5 billion in advertising sales last year, Magna Global estimates. Podcasts likely collected less than $700 million, while Spotify generated 461 million euros ($513 million) in ad sales through nine months of 2019. [Washington Times-Reporter]

We conducted a survey late last year and found out that 70.3% of podcast listeners in Nigeria are male. 81.1% of podcast fans [male & female] fall within the 15 – 34-year-old demographic. [Tony Doe Media]

In late 2019, it was calculated that 4.3% of podcasts have chosen to use AAC format; but since Anchor automatically produces podcasts in AAC format (and has many different podcasts hosted on it), 39% of new podcasts use AAC. [Podnews]

From Spotify’s perspective, ads serve a dual purpose: They generate a pivotal revenue stream for the company, but they also prompt users to pay for Spotify Premium, which costs $10 a month. More than 80 percent of Spotify subscribers started as free users, noted Spotify CEO Daniel Ek in a November blog post. [Digiday]

“As podcasting grows, the listener base is diversifying. Edison Research looked into data on “rookie” listeners (listening for six months or less) and “veteran” listeners (listening for 3+ years), and found significant demographic differences. Only 37% of veterans are female, compared to 53% of rookies. While the plurality of veterans (43%) are age 35-54, 54% of rookies are age 12-34. Rookies are also 1.6x more likely to say they most often listen to podcasts on Spotify, Pandora or SoundCloud (43% versus 27% of veterans).” [Techcrunch]

Serial, one of the most popular podcasts ever, had 10 New York Times journalists working on it for one year before they put out a single episode. “To hire the quality team and get them to put out one piece is a huge investment,” said Rajwade [Quartz]

“We soon realised that we had over a million hours of content, but people were consuming the same seven-10 percent of content when they came to Hubhopper. This was localised Indian content. There was clearly a gap between demand and supply; everybody wanted Indian and local content, but there wasn’t enough supply and we wanted to find out why,” he says.Monthly listeners totalled 40 million at the end of 2018, up a sharp 57.6 per cent from 25.4 million in the previous year. This made India the world’s third-largest podcast-listening market, after China and the US[YourStory]

73% of people who listen to podcasts discover new shows via web search—and it’s a great listening conversion tool [RadioPublic]

“The Nickelback Principle”: Audiences like content that is “bad.” They even like pretending they don’t like certain content and will go out of their way to complain about it. Nickelback was the bestselling band of the 2000s. This year, TLC’s Dr. Pimple Popper was more popular with women 25-54 in its timeslot than the Shonda Rhimes series How to Get Away with Murder, which stars Tony and Academy Award winner Viola Davis [Vox]

Ride Home Media podcast are structured like franchises. Ride Home Media picks which verticals and niches to launch in, promotes and helps manage growth, handles ad sales, and provides a proven template for both creative structure and for a consistency of format that sponsors can trust in. [Andrew Wilkinson]

The reason we removed Anchor is that they have a higher than average turn-over and quite a low show success rate. In the past 3 months, only 12% of podcasts with 10 or more episodes (~13,500) have produced new episodes. In other words, nearly 9 out of 10 podcasts on Anchor.fm either leave the service or abandon their podcast altogether [Blubrry]

While many listeners opted for content exclusive to podcast, such as true crime series, 36% preferred replayed radio shows featuring their favourite personalities [radioinfo]

But for most creators, that amounts to a meager living: a 2018 report found that the top 3 percent of video creators accounted for nearly 90 percent of total views on YouTube. Even those who broke into that coveted top 3 percent were still only earning about $16,800 in ad revenue annually. [a16z]

Americans spend 87% of their AM/FM radio listening tuning into their three favorite stations (based on the amount of time spent with each). What’s more interesting is that 58% of all listening goes to just one station, the listener’s favorite [Nielsen]

The content on its platform is a mix of audiobooks, poems, news, jokes, standalone ghost stories, mythology, and more. Bisu claimed the platform has over 2,100 podcasts and that around 1 million users have accessed it. He also said that, on average, people spend around 50 minutes a day on Kuku FM, on its app, as well as on the website, listening to and browsing different podcasts [KrAsia]

-For the three months from July through September, the amount of time people spent streaming podcasts grew 39 percent. And while only around 14 percent of its overall user base listened to podcasts during the period, the increase in conversions to subscription-based Spotify Premium as a result of that programming was deemed “almost too good to be true.”-Ek traces his fixation with non-music programming back to 2017, when he began to notice a strange trend on Spotify. Usage of the app was skyrocketing in Germany. “I couldn’t figure out why, and no one seemed to have an idea,” recalls the soft-spoken Swede. So he boarded a plane to Berlin, where he huddled with his team and soon discovered that the German music labels own the rights to most audiobooks in the country and had been uploading them onto Spotify. “By accident, we ended up becoming one of the largest audio platforms, period, and one of the largest audiobook platforms in Germany,” he says-Spotify has found that shorter podcasts work incredibly well in that mix, so it has started to invest in bite-sized shows like Simmons’ new effort, The Hottest Take, which is less than 10 minutes an episode[Hollywood Reporter]

Midroll commissioned an ad-effectiveness study with Nielsen that shows podcast advertising generates “far better brand recall” than other forms of digital advertising. [RadioInk]

With NPR’s podcasting revenue set to surpass broadcast next year, radio groups are no longer treating podcasting as an experiment. [Sarah Toporoff]

We found pre-rolls were 47% more effective than mid-rolls, and post-rolls were 58% less effective than mid-rolls. [Podsights]

…podcasting live shows industry will be worth over $55m this year. To put this in perspective, that is more than 10% the size of the podcast advertising market last year ($479.1 million in 2018). Here’s what else we found: -The top 10 events account for nearly half of the total market, coming in at $26,387,318 -The average ticket price is $63. Event sizes range anywhere from 200 to 6,000 people. -Google searches for podcast live events spiked this year (peaked in May, up 244% from Dec. 2018) -Events are most popular in Oregon, Minnesota, and California[Amira Valliani]

According to Wyatt Jenkins, senior vice president for product at Patreon, podcasts are the second-largest category on the site, and the fastest-growing. In the past three years, the number of Patreon pages for podcasts has quadrupled, while revenue intake in the category has increased eightfold. “Roughly 40 percent of our members — this is a guess — are probably doing it altruistically,” he says. “As a vertical, podcasting communities retain memberships very, very well. A lot higher than some other verticals. They release regular weekly content, and they create this incredibly strong bond.” [Hot Pod]

A couple of data points: in July 2018, The New York Times’ The Daily podcast was projected to book in the low eight-figures revenue in 2018 from ads, and had 5 million listeners monthly and 1 million listeners daily, or about $2 to $10 revenue per monthly listener. For context, The Daily was only started in January 2017. For comparison, in 2018, Spotify earned $605M from 111M monthly ad-supported listeners, or $5.45 per free listener [a16z]

“From UGC content to the earliest pay-for-the-knowledge, establishing an audio form of YouTube and Taobao has always been the goal of Ximalaya,” the company’s CEO Yu Jianjun said at a talk in August in Shanghai. [Technode]

The daily average length of the audio live streaming per daily active host was 87.6 minutes in the third quarter of 2019. [Lizhi, SEC filing]

Spotify will start looking at monetisation of podcasts in 2020, according to Daniel Ek, the company’s CEO on an earnings call. “Streaming was to Netflix as podcasting is to Spotify”, added the CFO, Barry McCarthy, bullish at the effect it’s having on user engagement. [Podnews]

-“Streaming is eating radio” now, rather than just competing with retail – sales of physical and digital music. “On average, just 39% of 16-19 year olds listen to music on the radio. This compares to 59% that watch music videos on YouTube. For teenagers, YouTube has replaced radio.”-He celebrated the way apps in Asia “both nurture and monetise fandom”, with live-streaming, karaoke, dance and lip-sync videos and other features.[Musically]

-The average Australian now spends more time listening to podcasts like Serial and This American Life than their privately-owned music collection.-The latest Share of Audio report, published by research firm GfK, found Australians spend an average 15 minutes a day listening to podcasts – up from seven minutes in 2018[The Age]

-A 2018 report by DailySocial found that the demographics of podcast listeners in Indonesia is dominated by the 20 to 25-year-old age range at 42.12 percent, followed by 26 to 29-year-olds at 25.52 percent. -The same report also found that 43.23 percent of its respondents regularly listen to podcasts, with a majority attributing the appeal to content and on-demand flexibility. The top podcast listening platform is Spotify, followed by Soundcloud and Google Podcast[Jakarta Post]

we currently run less than one minute of audio ads per hour of listening. By comparison, the three major radio networks averaged approximately 13 minutes of ads per hour in 2009 [Pandora, SEC filing]

Subscription satellite radio still had a slow start without any standout content, until it secured the exclusive distribution rights for The Howard Stern Show in 2006, putting the previously free program behind its subscription paywall, and landing over 180,000 subscribers overnight. Today, Sirius XM has about 33 million subscribers. [Podcast Business Journal]

iHeartMedia is the number one audio company in the United States, reaching nine out of 10 Americans every month – and with its quarter of a billion monthly listeners, has a greater reach than any other media company in the U.S. [iHeartMedia investor portal]

Spotify’s most popular playlists include Peaceful Piano and Deep Focus – ambient music people relax to. Those songs rack up tens of millions of streams, which means big paydays for their copyright owners. [Rolling Stone]

Sirius XM is in about 75% of cars and conversion is ~40% of that figure. [25iq]

But what is less well known is that, although Ximalaya FM is known for its Pay for Knowledge business built on subscriptions, it’s also China’s largest audiobook distributor. It has the authorization of 70 percent of China’s audiobook copyright holders and thus is close to a monopoly on audiobook sales. Which means that Ximalaya FM is not only the “YouTube of audio” here in China — it’s also China’s Audible [NiemanLab]

Only 14% of podcast listens on Apple Podcasts are downloads, according to new data from Simplecast: the rest are streams. In comparison, on Overcast 87% of podcasts are downloaded first. “Podcasts apps ought to default their audio delivery to streaming”, says the company [Podnews]

(2) Immediacy in consumption. This one’s my favorite. 55 percent of respondents reported consuming podcasts within 24 hours of downloading the episode, following by 18 percent reporting consumption within 48 hours and 15 percent reporting consumption within a week. That 24-hour data point is considerably made more rich when combined with the additional finding that 59 percent of respondents report immediate consumption behavior — marked in the survey as “click and listen immediately” — as opposed to save-for-later options. [Hot Pod]

We were asked to plan ahead for over 100 episodes when we first got in touch with XimalayaFM, and to update at least three new episodes every week,” says Ms. Xu, the head producer of a business-themed podcast featuring a successful businessman as lecturer, and now with over 60,000 paid subscribers. “To keep the production as quick as possible, we hire a ghost writer for the lecturer, so all he needs to do is to read aloud the scripts, record it on his phone, send it to me through WeChat, and we will do the rest from editing to marketing. This is the most efficient production mechanism we’ve figured so far.” [Elephant-Room]

A recent survey of Canadian adults found that 43 percent of people “went to YouTube for podcasts in the past year.” That put YouTube ahead of Apple Podcasts (34 percent) and Spotify (23 percent). [The Verge]

KG: Where people listen to podcasts in the US [Backyard Media]49% – home22% – car/truck11% – work4% – public trans4% – working out

While their revenues were still small, it didn’t take me long to realize that subscription podcasting has many of the same characteristics of a SaaS software business (recurring revenue, predictable growth rate, predictable customer lifetime value, predictable churn) with none of the downsides (expensive R&D, expensive marketing, ruthless competition). [Andrew Wilkinson]

Roughly two out of five Audible customers listen to podcasts, he said [NYT]

At some point soon, there will be one or two or more major new players who are trying to create a complete vertical podcasting-first operation: they will have a potent app with lots of awesome bells and whistles for sharing, search, and discovery. They will control the full experience, from content creation to distribution and ad sales. They’ll work a bit like Facebook or Apple’s products, they will benefit from keeping their users inside their own products, so they will need to offer them a steady stream of compelling content…They will do this at scale and will be well capitalized. They will want a few big flagship shows that draw a lot of elite attention and praise, even if they are money losers. This is when we will see the creation of major news shows. They’ll likely partner with other operations — maybe ProPublica or the NY Times or, even, NPR. My sense is Audible and Panoply and Acast are Scripps/Earwolf may be moving in this direction already… [NiemanLab]

Media types sometimes adoringly refer to a “driveway moment.” It’s when the listener is so engrossed in a radio story that he or she almost physically can’t turn it off—not even realizing the drive home is over and the car has been parked in the driveway for 20 minutes [The Kernel]

“Television has moved, drastically, to on-demand already. Music has moved to on-demand. And audio entertainment is the next one to go.” [NiemanLab]

That’s according to the 2018 Reuters Institute Digital News Report, which found that 58 percent of South Koreans said they tuned in to a podcast within the last month — around 25 percentage points higher than both Americans (33 percent) and the global average (34 percent). Hong Kong and Taiwan came in second and third, respectively, with 55 and 47 percent [Ozy]

KG: Random notes about Ximalaya-“Taobao for the media world”-Raised $50M Series B in 2014-At that time, 6M DAUs, 30M MAUs, 120 mins / day-52% male, 48% female, majority between 25-35-This was before De Dao had started – in fact Luo Zhenyu was still a KOL for Ximalaya [Slideshare]


Hi! I write about habits and spirituality and random whatevers. Click here to see the daily habits that I track. Find me on Twitter @kgao.