Not Everybody Needs a Podcast

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black and silver headphones on black and silver microphone

Photo by Will Francis on Unsplash

Today, my friends at Media Voices released their latest annual report – “Media Moments 2023”. I had the pleasure of writing the chapter on broadcast media, but don’t let that put you off downloading and reading it.

Check out our special podcast crossover episode:

I won’t repeat what I said in that chapter or on the crossover show in this newsletter. Instead, I want to highlight some of the other key findings. As ever, I think there is room for optimism in the general industry gloom.

Let’s take podcasts. In his chapter on the subject, Chris Sutcliffe highlights that just 25.5% of the UK public listens to podcasts weekly. That leaves a huge amount of room for growth that should excite podcast creators. Additionally, he notes research from UTA that shows significant podcast consumption by children “that is fertile ground for habits that should continue into adult life as well, suggesting podcasts as a medium aren’t going anywhere.”

Even better, in my opinion, is that Chris reported that the number of new podcasts being created is dropping. I’m not pleased about this because it means less competition for my own shows. At least, that’s not the only reason I’m pleased about it!

The pandemic undoubtedly prompted a huge influx of new shows of… varying… quality. While the joy of podcasting, as with blogging, newsletter writing and video creation, is that anyone can launch a product and see if it has an audience, it is important for the credibility of the industry as a whole that high standards are maintained. The hard truth is not everybody needs a podcast! Fewer new shows means more opportunities for the discovery and growth of podcasters who have been working away for a long time. (Ok… maybe this is a bit about me!)

Elsewhere in the report, Peter Houston looks at another subject close to my heart – newsletters.

I agree wholeheartedly with his observation “that in a time of automated content, creating human connections is a positive differentiator.” As with good podcasts, there is an intimacy to good newsletters that helps make them stand out. This will become increasingly important as we get more and more AI-generated content. Big brands like the Telegraph, FT and New Statesman have developed effective and flexible newsletter strategies, but we are seeing new companies like Mill Media try and use the format to provide good local coverage too.

Media types need to be wary of thinking newsletters can solve all their problems. You still have to sell ads, subscriptions or both and that is difficult. Discovery and brand building are difficult. That’s all true of podcasts too. However, both are demonstrably effective ways of differentiating your brand, building a connection with an audience and getting nuanced information to people who actively choose to receive it. I do not see that changing much in 2024.

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