Podcasts Power On
Word of mouth is key to a show's success.
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Podcasts remain one of the most thriving and exciting areas of the media landscape. And there is plenty of data to back that up courtesy of a few recent reports, some of which were helpfully compiled by Digiday.
It is also true that the podcast market has slowed down in various ways recently. I think of it more as a post-Covid correction to a market that got very hot during the pandemic. And it doesn’t seem to have stopped almost every creator I follow from starting a podcast…
One thing is clear - when shows grow, a lot of that is down to word of mouth. Research by Voices found that 47.89 per cent of people found new shows via word of mouth/recommendation. Meanwhile, The Podcast Landscape study from Sounds Profitable found:
Fify-five per cent of respondents discover new podcasts through word-of-mouth recommendations. Twenty-five per cent of respondents find new podcasts through a recommendation from another podcast host.
Sounds Profitable also found that 67 per cent of respondents said that they were more likely to go to a new show via an influencer as opposed to an advert by the podcast itself.
A small number of shows might be powered by a well-known celebrity host or high-profile marketing campaigns, but hosts should never underestimate the power of getting listeners to tell other people about their podcasts.
All these numbers are fascinating and important to keep in mind. But they also overlook why people want to build shows in the first, even when they already work at a big, well-known media brand.
Niall Paterson has been a fixture on TV screens for years - I’ve had the pleasure of being on air with him. He now leads Sky News’s “Sky News Daily” podcast. It features a discussion on one key topic each day. Patterson explained to The Addition why he enjoys doing the show so much.
I suppose personally it’s been the learning curve - this whole podcast malarkey obviously builds on everything I’ve done as a reporter and a presenter but there’s a reflective quality that’s new. I get to spend twenty-odd minutes on one story, sometimes with just one guest or Sky correspondent, rather than the 3/4/5 minutes on telly. I’ve always tried to be quite conversational and wry on TV - on the podcast I can genuinely be myself, have conversations with interesting people, and end the working day better informed than I was at the start. And it’s f**king fun too. Can’t beat it
So, as well as being fun, podcasts also allow presenters to explore more nuanced topics. Conversations that might not make it to the top of news bulletins but are nonetheless valuable. Paterson gives a recent example:
Take Friday’s podcast - an interview with one of the soldiers who guarded Saddam during his trial through to his execution. Who by his own admission felt a bond with him and sadness at his death. I’m not sure any other format could do that story justice, could show how a young man fighting for his country could share any kind of bond with someone as despicable as Hussein.
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