OzPod 2017: the state of podcasting in September 2017

OzPod 2017: the state of podcasting in September 2017

Thank you, everyone – I’m very pleased to
be back here today. I’m James Cridland, the radio futurologist
and the publisher of a news website for podcasting, podnews.net – I publish a very short newsletter
once a day with links to news all over the world about podcasting and on-demand. It’s
free! To tell you a bit about who I am, during my
time at Virgin Radio in London, I launched the world’s first smartphone app for a radio
station, and the UK’s first daily podcast from a radio station in March 2005. I now work for all kinds of people; and I
now live in Brisbane because London is so last century. The podcasting world has certainly changed
in the last twelve months since we were last here together: but then, quite a lot’s changed.
This time last year, a Google Home was just a place where Larry Page went in the evening,
Donald Trump was just a reality TV star with bad hair and no access to nuclear missiles,
and S-Town was just the way people in Melbourne talked about Sydney. Much has changed. So I’ve been asked to set the scene for
the rest of the day, and look at the numbers. I’d like to spot opportunities for podcasters
as the industry grows. I’d like to find trends from data that might help us. I’ll
show a few graphs to get there. And now I’m an Australian taxpayer, I guess I own this
big screen now, so let’s start with a few of my holiday photos.
Ten years ago I went to Dublin in Ireland, and visited the Guinness brewery,
Here I am in a nice bar in Tokyo in Japan. Some Hitachino white ale, which is very good.
Here I am in Vancouver, this is a local Brewer and is really very good.
And here I am in South Korea. I’ve given you no clues about what I think of these beers. So let’s see if we have some podcast stats
worth raising a glass to. This time last year, there wasn’t very much
data about podcasting here in Australia. We were mostly getting research from the US or
the UK. This year that’s changed; and I’m grateful not just to companies like Omny Studio,
Pocket Casts and the ABC for sharing their internal data with me, I’m also grateful
to Edison Research and Commercial Radio Australia, and many others, who have all invested time
and money into some of the research I’m sharing with you today. So. Let’s start with the big numbers. These
are from ABC internal research, released for the first time today, and is research that
is nationally representative. I’ll share some other ABC research later. 89 of all Australians have heard of podcasts.
That is a very high number, and similar data from Edison Research also showed that awareness
is high here in Australia. 58 of Australians have listened to a podcast.
If you’re young – 25-34 – that number goes up
to 76. And 29 of Australians have listened to a podcast
in the past month. These are really strong figures, though 29 could, of course, be larger.
Over 95 of Australians listen to the radio every month, after all. WHERE are they listening? Here’s some data
from Omny Studio which I’ve indexed against Australian population as a whole. New South
Wales and Victoria are driving podcasting, downloading more than average, while other
states and territories are less keen. For example if you live in Queensland, you’re
29 less likely to download a podcast than the average Australian. But on the bright
side, you live in Queensland. There’s been some change here – the ACT
last year indexed higher than the average. This year, people in the ACT are slightly
less likely to download a podcast than the average Australian. Perhaps they’ve been
too busy trying to find their birth certificates. I said last year that focusing on other states
was an opportunity. I still think that’s true. Anyway, that’s PEOPLE. Let’s see how much
time podcasting takes up. This came out late last year from Commercial Radio Australia
and GFK, and shows the type of audio we listen to. When you look at the whole country, about
4 of our time is already spent listening to podcasting. And consumption is very different in terms
of age. This is UK research, showing how people consume audio: younger people listening to
much more on-demand audio than older people. And here’s some interesting and quite under-reported
data from the US. This is total time spent listening to radio station streams online.
And even though more people are getting internet access and smartphones and everything else,
traditional live radio streams via the internet are going down, because – I’d suspect – they’re
finding podcasting and other interesting on-demand content to enjoy. Our numbers are good in Australia, but there’s
lots of room for growth, particularly outside New South Wales and Victoria. We shouldn’t
assume that people are comfortable with the technology or find it easy to use. There is
a lot of opportunity for radio broadcasters, particularly, to promote podcasting. If you
tune into either 4BC or ABC Radio Brisbane, I’d challenge you to ever hear the p-word
being mentioned. I think we could do much more, and that would benefit the entire sector. So what are people listening to? Well, the good news is, people are listening
to more. In 2014, the average number of podcasts that users of Pocket Casts had subscribed
to was 7. In 2017: 24. (Those are my subscriptions, by the way, don’t judge me). Of course, a subscription is one thing. But
two-thirds of Americans don’t actually get the time to listen to everything, so there’s
always that, too. This is brand new research, unveiled at Podcast Movement two weeks ago.
They also discover that… Most people listen to a surprisingly small
number of podcasts. Edison Research says the average is 5; this shows that half of podcast
listeners in the US listen to 2 or 3. When asked how much of a podcast people listened
to, 47, less than half, say they always listen to the full length of a podcast. Podcasting,
like radio, is a multitasking medium that you can enjoy while doing something else,
so it’s probably to be expected that when people finish the task they were doing, like
driving or gardening, they stop the podcast. That’s why 30 of people stop listening.
And 23 stop when they get tired or bored. Unless it’s my own podcast, which is very
boring. However, if the content’s good enough, people
will come back. The ABC’s podcast survey finds that about a third of active podcast
listeners will pause a podcast and continue playing it later. It’s this stat that I find most interesting.
Based on actual consumption from actual people using actual data, Pocket Casts says that
if a podcast is an hour long, less than 50 of people make it past 15 minutes. But, importantly,
those that *do*, keep listening to the end. If they’ve committed to a podcast, they’ll
stick with it. But earning that commitment is hard. So, from this lot, perhaps we need to be better
marketers of our podcast. If most people listen to 5 or less each week, we need to be really
clear why our podcast deserves to be in their five podcasts. And we need to be better at keeping our audience.
Here are two tips from the radio industry that are good for podcasting:
1. Something that radio people call “the reset”. Every presenter break, or every
episode, you have new people joining you. You need to say who you are and what this
podcast is all about. Nobody is going to go back to episode one for that.
2. And then, you need to promote ahead. Don’t record an interview podcast, for example,
without recording a beginning to it afterwards. “In this podcast, my guest tells me what
the best beer from Queensland is, and what XXXX stands for. You won’t believe it. Keep
listening.” Radio people have been doing this for years
– and we can steal their best ideas from them. We’re all audio producers, of course. All of this research will all be pointless
in only a few months, though, because Apple – see what I did there – will be bringing
out a bunch of data for podcasters. And here’s what it’s going to look like. You’ll see total plays, not downloads, but
plays. This shows a comparison between different episodes. You’ll see how long they stuck with your
podcast and where they skipped. And where your subscribers listen. It looks quite like
Omny Studio. This stuff is going to be very interesting,
though it’ll only be Apple devices, not everything, and it’ll only be podcasts consumed
through the Apple Podcasts app. Even so, that’s a good step in the right direction. One concern
is whether it’ll drive podcast clickbait, and whether that’s a bad thing really. What we don’t have yet is an actual chart
showing the most popular podcasts. Pocket Casts is available on iPhones, Android
phones, and the web – so it might be interesting to know the most subscribed podcasts in Australia.
These aren’t downloads or listens, just subscriptions. But here is the chart.
* Two interesting things. First, Serial is #1, but there hasn’t been an episode of
Serial this year. Once you subscribe, you tend to leave that subscription there. Good
news for podcasters who think about breaks between seasons, rather than feeling they
have to always make a podcast every week. * And secondly… there isn’t a single Australian
podcast in the top 10 subscriptions. If you’re looking for an Aussie podcast, we can probably
claim #11, that was ours but is now Gimlet’s; and the top Australian podcast subscribed-to
is… #14, Dr Karl on triplej. That looks a little odd. But then, this is
subscriptions, not downloads. And it’s a very different list to what we’re used to. Here’s the iTunes Chart, as of Wednesday.
It shows the “top” podcasts, and this is much more what we’re used to – some good
Aussie content in here, Richard Fidler at #5. The #1 when I looked was Unspeakable – now,
that has one episode out, and while I’m sure it’s great, it’s clearly not as popular
as Conversations. Now, I’ve written an article on this, but
hopefully this highlights that the iTunes Chart really isn’t a chart. It’s just
an indicator of new subscribers. This is built to reflect trends, and surface new and interesting
podcasts. That’s a fine thing, and it’s an achievement to get there: but the iTunes
Chart, while useful, isn’t a chart of total downloads, subscriptions, popularity, or anything
else. A few more things on stats. The iTunes front-page features don’t actually
translate into a huge traffic spike. This edition of podnews links to someone who got
the big feature, and has reported back on the stats – he says it gave him 5 extra downloads. So
people are probably most interested in learning how they’re doing. The big shows from the
big networks get millions of downloads, as you’d expect. This American Life, the network,
gets a total of 22 million downloads per month to their three shows: Serial and S-Town are
still doing some good numbers, but the main one of course is This American Life, so I
suspect this average isn’t very fair. I’d reckon This American Life probably does four
million downloads every episode. But as you can probably see already, the average
downloads for a podcast episode is 150. If you’re doing more than that, congratulations
on beating the average. If you’re doing 5,000 downloads per episode, you’re easily
in the top ten percent. I believe the biggest Aussie podcasts are doing 100,000 per episode. But where and when are people listening? We already know that mobile devices are the
thing. Omny Studio gave me these stats last year, and have updated them for this year.
Use of tablets has more than doubled, according to these figures – still very small, but interesting
nonetheless. We might listen on our mobiles, but listening
is at home. Both the ABC survey and the US data from Edison Research over the last year
say this, and they have also shown an increase in in-car listening, by the way, as the connected
dashboard slowly increases. The ABC also reports podcasting is popular when exercising, and
when falling asleep. And the ABC tells us that listening peaks
towards the end of the weekday. This is very similar to on-demand behaviour that we’ve
seen for a while in all audio; typically, people wanting to connect with the world in
the morning, using live radio, and then withdraw into themselves at the end of the schoolday
or working day. Podcasting is less popular over the weekend, but most popular then in
the early afternoon. Finally, while we talk about podcast apps
and subscribing, that’s really not how many people use podcasting. Here are two pieces
of data from the US – the one of the left says that 58 of people want to listen immediately,
and the one on the right says, well, much the same. Edison, who asked the data for the
right-hand side, also asked about subscribing. It’s interesting how small the figures are
for subscribing, and how much people say they actually prefer to click and listen. So, one takeaway from that might be to ensure
you have an embedded player on your website. Omny Studio tell me that a third of their
podcasts are listened-to using their embedded player on one of their clients’ websites.
So if someone wants to click and listen, let them. And we might want to consider our language
of subscribing and downloading podcasts. We’re just “playing” them, surely? Now, talk to radio people, and they’ll give
you an epiphany about the smart speaker. On the left, the Apple HomePod: here for Christmas,
probably around $500 aussie dollars. HomePod will interface directly with Apple Podcasts
and let you ask Siri to play your favourites. On the right, the Amazon Echo. We’ll probably
get this when we get Amazon here in Australia, whenever that might be. That, too, plays podcasts
– pulled from TuneIn. So, make sure your podcast is listed in TuneIn too – a quick Google search
will tell you how – to get into these speakers. And in the middle: Google Home, available
now for $199 dollars from places like Harvey Norman and JB-Hifi, or for 37,250 Qantas points,
if you spend most of your life in the air. Now, this does have podcasts, as does the
Google Assistant on newer Android phones. Nobody’s quite sure how to get their podcast
listed, though. So, smart speakers – are they a thing? Well, at first glance, yes. People who own
them are listening to more audio. For 20 they are their primary audio device. Almost all
of them are in a shared space which means more listeners. And they’re popular – almost
half of people with one say that they want to buy another. So in the US, they’ve done research showing
what people use them for, and this is it. Play music, get the weather, listen to the
radio in various forms and… oh, there’s podcasting all the way over there. So, er…
let’s take a look at some other research. Here’s research from the UK. Live radio
doing very well, on-demand music doing quite well, podcasting… ah. So, smart speakers a thing?
No. I wonder whether this is because we haven’t
told people they’re there; or that people don’t want to listen to a podcast when other
people are in the room; or whether it;’s too hard to ask for a podcast using your voice;
or whether we should care. As a by product of all this, by the way, podcasting
is inbuilt in android phones and has been for some time. Just ask your phone to play
Hamish and Andy using the Google Assistant, and it will. It’s been there for over a year,
you can even add an icon to your home screen for your favourite podcast. Shame that Google
hasnt really ever told anyone. FINALLY where are we in terms of advertising
in all this? We have some great speakers on this subject later today, but here’s what
I’ve spotted… In the US, Nielsen is taking this seriously
and released some research two weeks ago around the podcast audience. Their headline is – 50
of US households use podcasting. This is important because people in households talk to each
other about things they want to buy. And they’ve spent some time working up a
podcast listener profile. They’re more likely to buy bottled water… more likely to buy
baby food… and more likely to buy… beer. Advertisers are taking note. They’re talking
about podcast advertising more… considering podcast advertising more… advertising or
planning to advertise more. This is all good news for podcasting. And even more good news – podcast advertising
appears to be effective, too. 56 of Americans saying they pay more attention to the ads
in podcasts. Just announced yesterday, Omny Studio’s partnership with Placard Media
to sell advertising is a good example of where the market is going. My final thoughts. First, don’t forget about Android. It has
80 of the market share. It’s a massive opportunity. Make it really, really easy on your website
to listen to your podcast on Android. As an Android user, I’ve lost count of the amount
of podcasts who just blindly link me to iTunes, and don’t consider that Android users want
to listen to podcasts too. Second – look, this is the Australian Podcasting
Conference, and I don’t want to go all Annastasia Palushay on you, but we probably should be
supporting Australian businesses. The PocketCasts app works on Android phones,
iPhones and on the web. The page they give your podcast lets you subscribe from other
apps, too. And it’s built down the road in Adelaide. So perhaps we should all say
that if we link to iTunes, we should also link to Pocketcasts. It might be the Australian
thing to do. But from all this data, there’s no doubt
that podcasting is growing. The ABC podcast survey says it’s growing faster than ever.
And that should make our listeners, and us, smile about the future of podcasting. I’ll
drink to that. If you’ve questions, I’m around all day and
available at the end of this email address – [email protected] – and thanks for your time

2 thoughts on “OzPod 2017: the state of podcasting in September 2017

  1. Nice presentation James. I hope you get a chance to upload more of your presentations here on YouTube. Thanks so much ­čĄô

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