Monday, March 26, 2018

'Netflix For Podcasts' Doubtful Despite Growing Listenership

We are in a golden age for podcasts, writes Bill Rosenblatt in Forbes.

Nowadays listeners can choose among a seemingly infinite variety of quality, professionally produced podcasts that cater to every interest imaginable. The latest market research says that listenership has reached true mainstream media levels. Serious corporate and venture money is flooding the space. But are those investors going to see a return, and will the golden age continue?

Earlier this month, Edison Research and Triton Digital released their annual Infinite Dial research study, a highly regarded and influential resource for everyone in the digital audio market. Although the Infinite Dial originally focused on digital forms of radio, it has covered podcasting for the past 13 years. This year's study says that three-quarters of the U.S. population (age 12+) is familiar with podcasts, almost half (44%) have ever listened to a podcast, and about a quarter (26%) listen every month.

That puts podcasting up there with streaming music listening, which is now the dominant source of revenue for the music industry. According to Infinite Dial numbers, more people now listen to podcasts than listen to Spotify; only Pandora and YouTube (used for music listening) are more popular than podcasts.

But digital music and podcasting are different markets. The music industry has found new life and revenue growth in paid subscription services; whether podcasting can do the same is far from clear.

Given that all these paid services are growing rapidly, it's fair to ask whether podcasting has a future in direct consumer revenue — or other revenue sources — or if it will be limited to advertising.

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