Podcast: The Crawling Baby is Walking Now!

10 Aug,2020



By Indrani Sen


Our students at Symbiosis Institute of Media & Communication have been surprising us with their online co-curricular activities ever since we opened our campus virtually. Recently, we noticed a keen interest among them to use and explore podcasts.


The Public Relations students of PR Club have started an initiative of regular podcast using Spotify Live on “PR in Post Covid World” from July 2020 and are inviting various senior people from PR industry for featuring in the podcasts. Media Management students of MM Club organised a panel discussion on “Growing podcast culture in the audio streaming industry” and invited three bright young professionals, Ishani Dasgupta of Jio Saavan, Kavita Rajwade of IVM Podcast and Daniel Fenandes, a stand-up comedian and SIMC alumnus to share their perspectives with the students.


Encouraged by the students’ interest, I was trying to update myself on podcast in India during last week when www.emarketers.com came up with an interesting article on podcast adspending in the US on August 4, 2020. “Podcast listenership in the US has been soaring in recent years and advertising dollars are following…… By the end of 2020, podcast ad spending in the US will reach $782.0 million, up 10.4% from last year, giving it a 21.0% share of the US digital radio ad market. And in 2021, spending will jump nearly 45% to $1.13 billion.” (https://www.emarketer.com/content/us-podcast-ad-spending-surpass-1-billion-next-year?ecid=NL1009).


The term “podcast” was first used in February 2004 by combining “iPod” and “broadcast” by Ben Hammersley, a Guardian columnist and BBC journalist. The term was coined before Apple introduced its formal support for podcasting to the iPod, or launched its iTunes software. Apple rolled out iOS 8, a standalone ‘Podcast’ app in 2014, which accelerated the process of growth in podcasting.


Today, many podcasts can be downloaded free; some are underwritten or sponsored by organisations with the inclusion of advertisements. Advertising, subscription, licensing content and content generation as a service are the revenue generation models in podcasting.  Lately, many people have made business ventures in the area of podcasting supported by combination of a paid subscription model and advertising.


Podcasting in India began around 2005 with Indicast launched by Abhishek Kumar and Aditya Mhatre and caught up very fast with younger people as a verbal storytelling platform. Within a year, the number of podcasters rose to nearly 3000 in India and since then has been growing at a steady pace. Though China and the USA are globally most advanced podcast markets, it is estimated that India is on its way to become one of the top five podcast markets. Google indicates similar trends by observing that India is one of the top five countries using its podcast app.


In India, there is a definite demand for local, Indianised content and podcasters are looking at audio-streaming as the new battleground. Industry experts agree that Indian podcasting may see exponential growth in both audiences and content during the next few years, making it an independent, economically viable standalone media.


“As of December 2019, 40 million Indian internet users have listened to podcasts in India….this market is just one small fraction of the bigger OTT video and music streaming industry.” claimed an article mapping the Indian podcast market released on April 14, 2020 (https://inc42.com/features/mapping-the-market-indias-podcast-landscape/). Another article published in The Hindu Businessline on May 22, 2020 wrote about five home grown apps for podcasting in India.  (https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/info-tech/five-homegrown-podcast-apps-for-indian-listeners/article31650585.ece).


The article in The Hindu Businessline observed: “…compared to western markets, India has all the right growth variables. The emergence of digital marketing to grab more users and revenue, entry of celebrities in podcast creation (Neha Dhupia, Kunal Kapoor, Kalki Koechlin and others); entry of foreign players (Spotify, Audible, Apple Podcasts, Audioboom and others); adoption of podcasts as a content stream by media companies (Hindustan Times, BBC, NPR etc.) as well as local music streaming platforms such as JioSaavn, Gaana have all played a crucial role in the growth of podcasts in the Indian market.”


As of today, it is estimated that we have 40+ players, including local and international apps as well as aggregators in our podcast market. In the post Covid era of online teaching, podcast is being considered as an alternative platform for teaching. We can safely assume that Indian advertisers will follow the trends in US and other markets and podcast will emerge as an additional advertising option in the next decade.



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