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19 August 2022
Podcast fatigue, or a maturing medium?
Podcasts, streaming & on demandRadio & audio audiencesStrategy
New media can sometimes elicit too much excitement – perhaps some were guilty of believing podcasts would continue to defy gravity and keep growing; the sober reading is that podcasts are a maturing form.
Why it matters
Podcasts were a surprise hit of lockdowns, as listeners who had sought company on their commutes now sought it while stuck at home, but as countries and economies have opened up, more complicated behaviour patterns have emerged.
Effectively, the story is that something other than an upward curve in listenership is emerging.
The Verge’s Hot Pod column notes an Edison Research and Libsyn study into Latino American podcast listeners, where 2021 had seen an incredible 44% increase in listening; over a third of the sample listened to podcasts monthly. However, now in 2022, 36% has fallen back to 34%.
Other sources, like the Sounds Profitable newsletter, have questioned the mismatch between the roughly half of (US) podcast listeners that have only started getting into podcasts in the last year or so, compared with the relatively modest growth curve in listenership. This, they argue, implies serious churn issues, which the more evangelical among the podcast movement prefer not to countenance.
Reasons for churn or (very slight) falls in listenership are many and complex. It’s difficult for there to be consistent hit shows that can keep people hooked, especially across languages.
From an advertising perspective, podcasts remain an undervalued opportunity. Remember, around half of the US adult population is a light (monthly) listener, while 28% listen weekly. It may not be the new new thing, but it remains an incredibly valuable, high-reach, high engagement medium. Many buyers agree.