Thanks This Website
Thanks This Website

As most of my friends will tell you, I can tend to proselytise when it comes to podcasts. I badger people about whether they’ve listened to this show or that episode yet, which can be a bit awkward because most of my South African friends seem to prefer music in their cars. Also – I think people sort of warily wonder why it’s so important to me. Even I have to ask myself that sometimes. And the best I’ve come up with in the way of answers:

  1. I’m a nerd that gets so much pleasure from good podcasts that I just can’t believe that other people won’t feel the same way and therefore, I feel duty-bound to evangelise; or
  2. As more people get into podcasting, we’ll start to get even better podcasts, and there’ll be more of them. And we’ll get better podcasting apps – because in my world, Apple’s real failure isn’t Apple Maps, it’s their native Podcasts app, which is an abomination; or
  3. I was listening to podcasts before their “renaissance”, and I’m now overly-excited about the new waves of awesome audio content that keep swelling over my iPhone.

In September last year, I gave a list of podcasts that I was listening to (Seven Podcasts Worth Your Time). Since then, I’ve discovered new ones, and stopped listening to old ones, and my podcasting time has gotten way more interesting.

And I suspect this is partly due to reason 2 above. Podcasts are becoming so much more popular.

A graph from Edison Research:

Thanks Edison Research
Thanks Edison Research

And podcast makers are delighted because their native advertising rates are so much higher than standard radio. Here’s a quote from “What’s Behind The Great Podcast Renaissance?” in the New York magazine:

Producing an average podcast costs far less than producing a TV show or a radio show (all you really need is a microphone or two, a copy of Audacity or some other editing software, and a cheap hosting service for the audio files themselves). And the advertising rates on a successful podcast are big enough to pay for the costs many times over. Several top podcasters told me that their CPM (the cost to an advertiser per thousand impressions, a standard ad-industry unit) was between $20 and $45. Compare that to a typical radio CPM (roughly $1 to $18) or network TV ($5 to $20) or even a regular old web ad ($1 to $20), and the podcast wins. Podcasts can charge higher ad rates because of the personal nature of the single-host format — as an advertiser, it’s far better to have “Serial”‘s Sarah Koenig reading your copy out loud than to burst in with a prepackaged ad that nobody will pay attention to.

And the reason for this rising popularity?

Apparently, it’s the rise of internet-connected cars.

People in traffic are a captured audience – and increasingly, they’re able to trade their cable tv (radio) for netflix (podcasts). From personal experience, I can tell you that’s the reason I started listening to them. And the car industry expects 50% of cars sold in 2015 to have some sort of internet connectivity, with 100% connectivity by 2025 (here’s a pdf report if you’re interested).

The logical consequence of that: podcasts that I’ve been listening to for years are now joining up into podcasting “networks” like Panoply – which is only a step away from being Netflix in, like, actual fact.

I feel like the world of Radio is possibly about to experience some disruption.

Also, I suspect that the days of downloading free podcasts are rapidly approaching their end, and we’ll be limited to one of two options:

  1. You’ll be able to download the most recent episode for free (or a few of them) – but the back catalogue will be on a pay-per-episode model*; or
    *this is the model already being used by This American Life and the two Dan Carlin podcasts
  2. You’ll have to pay your monthly subscription fees to the network, or a selection of the networks. Which will make me very very sad.

My apparent response is to download every single back episode of any podcast that I might like as though I were a child on Reggies Rush (or an adult on Supermarket Sweep).

It’s not rational. But *rushes off after discovering four new podcasts while reading articles on podcasts for this blog post*

Articles that might be of interest:

Podcasts about podcasts:

*also resolves to update list of good podcasts in a forthcoming post*

Rolling Alpha posts opinions on finance, economics, and the corporate life in general. Follow me on Twitter @RollingAlpha, and on Facebook at