I enjoyed reading the NY Times article about podcasting posted today, written by Farhad Manjoo. One of the questions he raises was the long term sustainability and/or growth of the medium. Will podcasting ever really compete with radio, or maybe even overtake it as a more consumed medium?
An Edison Research study says roughly 17% of Americans listen to at least 1 podcast a month. That’s up 5% in the past 5 years, and they estimate the audience is around 46 million people. That’s a lot of people. But the slow growth over the years would lead me to believe it’s a sustainable growth, and one you can trust in the terms of advertising revenue. Maybe that’s why companies like Gimlet Media and Panoply have invested so much time and money into producing high quality podcasts. They’ve learned that if you can get an audience, you can garner some pretty great ad rates. The article says, “ad rates on top-tier podcasts approach $100 per thousand listeners.”
Bulk may be the name of the game when it comes to making big bucks. But you might not need it to be self supportive.
I don’t think if you’re a radio station you’re job should be to convert your listeners into sole podcast listeners. Another Edison Research study shows that if you’re a regular podcast consumer, it’s become the bulk of your listening pattern, surpassing traditional AM/FM radio and even other digital music and CDs. The goal should be to give your listeners content that they can take with them, something entertaining and can carry with them to consume when they want to consume.
Think of your radio station as the restaurant with your listeners eating at your table every day. Podcasting should be more than offering them a dogie bag that they can open and enjoy when they’re not at the restaurant. Podcasting should be like giving them the option to order out or order something off the menu.