The ABC has announced a $1 million boost to its podcast production, aimed at supporting emerging community-based podcasters, while at the same time increasing the diversity of its content.
Australia’s national broadcaster recently launched The Podcast Fund at the opening of the annual podcasting conference, OzPod 2017.
According to the director of ABC Radio Michael Mason, the fund will focus on small, community-based podcasts as well as provide up-and-coming podcasters with a larger platform and audience base.
“The fund will also be used to commission podcasts around specific communities and their interests across a wide range of activities including sport, culture, lifestyle, comedy and the arts,” he said.
The ABC hopes young, talented and passionate podcasters will benefit from their expertise and experience.
But it will be a two-way street. The ABC is expecting to use the program to extend its reach into communities and audiences of special interest through new creative partnerships.
Australians are proving to be huge consumers of podcasts, with 17 per cent of the population listening to a podcast at least once a month.
The ABC is already at the forefront of podcasting, with about 115 million unique downloads this year alone, with an average monthly download of 16 million.
Their most popular podcast Conversations with Richard Fidler has already been downloaded 20 million times this year.
Many believe that podcasting is poised to take over radio in terms of reach and revenue.
A recent study showed that a third of people say they have had trouble finding what they want on the radio.
On the other hand, users can search a myriad of podcast topics to find one that interests them, which they are then able to listen to at a convenient time.
The trend looks set to continue, with the use of smartphones and tablets continuing to rise, as well as the ever-increasing consumption of audio material.
The Podcast Fund will be run by ABC Audio Studios, and will bring together the corporation’s podcast production teams and its long-form radio production teams.
The funding will be used for formulating ideas, developing and planning formats, production processes and engaging with audiences.
The ABC will call for submissions in the coming months with new podcast content scheduled to drop in 2018.
Podcasts are growing quickly, and it’s no wonder. Users can listen to audio content hands (and eyes) free while on-the-go, and at a time convenient to them.
Unlike any other content medium, such as videos and blogs, audio offers the ability to be consumed in parallel to performing other tasks making them easy to slot into day-to-day life.
And the numbers speak for themselves. Popular podcasts Serial and This American Life started the trend and apparently averaged 1.5 million downloads each episode.
Australian women’s publisher Mamamia had seven million podcast downloads in the past 12 months and they’re predicting that they’ll have 20 million downloads by this time next year.
“Australia is the fourth largest consumer of podcasts in the world,” said Mamamia’s national digital sales director Danika Johnston.
So, why are podcasts so popular?
First, podcasts solve a variety of problems. Simply pop in your headphones and things like cleaning the house, a long commute, or even cooking a laborious meal become a learning experience – with a friendly voice in your ear.
A quick search for podcasts on any topic brings up a wealth of information to choose from – and often the more niche, the more popular the podcast.
“Thirty-two per cent of people can’t find what they want on radio. Podcasts offer listeners targeted content in an intimate and immediate way,” said Ms Johnston.
Podcasting has become such a popular way of accessing content in Australia that universities are now teaching podcasting in journalism courses.
Unlike songs and other downloads on iTunes, podcasts offer a way for users to access content that is free and valuable. You can listen to intelligent content while stuck in traffic, at the gym or taking the dog for a walk, and they provide a gripping distraction that feeds the need to learn with the flexibility of being able to listen on the fly.
The beauty of podcasting is that it offers an intimate and accessible way for even the most niche of brands to bring their story (literally) into the user’s ear in a most chatty and conversational way.
It’s not only the popular shows with a high number of downloads that are gaining traction in the podcast space. Good content translates to every type of business, so everyone from real estate experts to writers and health professionals are now sharing their knowledge through podcasts.
Statistics about the way users interact with the ads in podcasts is also very interesting. According to this US study, 54 per cent of users bought something after hearing about it on a podcast.
The way people interact with the content from podcasts offers a unique opportunity for brands to literally get ‘in their ears’.
While capturing your listener with a good story, you can build trust. People remember what they heard in the middle of a fascinating podcast and are more likely to purchase something at a later date.
As such, podcasts have become an attractive medium for advertisers, especially in developing a brand’s reputation and growing an audience.
As smartphone use continues to rise and audio files become more accessible, it’s easy to see why podcasts are becoming the ultimate on-demand content medium. There are certainly opportunities for producers and advertisers to make the most of this growing and exciting medium.