RadioandMusic
| 18 Aug 2019
podcasts
Podcasting brings back age old art of storytelling

Our first introduction to stories was through told-tales. On growing up, we started reading and watching to consume information. But the charm of those narrated tales never faded. Podcasts are just about igniting the nostalgia of those tales for Indians.

This ease and accessibility of podcasts, coupled with diversified, insightful, unconventional content has helped podcasts aspire to touch US$20 billion globally by 2020. The trickle-down effect has not spared India either. Think of popular podcasts such as #AkashVani (cricket analysis show by Indian cricketer commentator Akash Chopra), interviews with Anupama Chopra (Film Companion), Red FM Bauaa (prank calls by famous Delhi RJ Raunak), Mirchi Murga with RJ Naved or Moneycontrol Podcasts (investment tips, financial planning, dos and don’ts in stock market etc.,). The latest entrants include Carvaan 2.0, which people tuned into 2018 and still continue to swear by. Moreover, gauging the demand, home grown start-ups are quick to hop onto the wagon. For example, popular technology reporting portal Factor Daily went podcast only recently. Another Indian start-up, Audiomatic is believed to have grown its podcasts subscriber based at about 300 percent CAGR in last three years. The entry of global players like Audible, Spotify and YouTube has made the market even more interesting.

Digital wave has swept the podcast shore

All you need is a smartphone and good internet connection to dial up your favourite podcast or explore the one you may like. Thanks to digital disruption, these things are now staple for a large number of Indians. As per Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), India will have 500 million smartphone users by 2022. Add to this, the country has 556 million internet uses at the end of 2018, as per a survey by Kantar IMRB. With the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), and the Internet of Things (IoT), the user experience is becoming more personalized and engaging. Therefore, users can not only access podcasts at a nominal cost but also keep a tab of those which match their taste, preferences, and needs. This custom made approach is making podcasts a mainstream form of entertainment, education, and information.

Building onto the success of Over the top (OTT) platforms

Music streaming gave the first dose of smartphone based enriching entertainment for Indians. Currently, there are about 150 million people in India who subscribe on various music streaming platforms. In March this year, Gaana.com crossed the 100 million active user mark. Visual OTT platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hotstar etc. have added another layer of good content to it. This evolution set the stage for effective distribution of popular podcasts. With content such as e-books, kids learning, short stories, bhajans, music series, and much more, podcasts have something for every age group and demographics. The added advantage with podcasts is that one does not have to look into the screen all the time. You can do other things like study, drive, play, or do nothing else. This makes the user experience more comfortable and taps onto the need of a larger audience base. 

Commuting time is growing; and it’s a blessing

Expanding metros and industrial towns mean that Indians are spending more and more time in commuting, ideal for tuning into podcasts. The Indian Podcast Listener Statistics from 2018 suggest that 77 percent podcast listeners in India use their phones for this, most of the times when commuting. In fact, several producers have also started curating the content, duration, and tastes of podcasts while keeping in mind the commuters. You may finish an e-book that you can finish in 30 mins, and move onto next one, rather than hanging onto it for days.

Regional language content is a hit

Unlike the early days when of OTT platforms started in Hindi and English, podcasts straightaway connected with a larger audience base by producing language content. A study by KPMG in India and Google-‘Indian Languages—Defining India’s Internet’ suggests that the Indian language internet user base grew at 41 percent CAGR during 2011-16. Moreover, the study estimates that 90 percent of Indian internet users will use a regional language for the same, by 2020.

Podcasts may have started as a medium for intellectuals and catering to the niche audience. However, due to above factors and much more, they are rapidly being adopted by masses. The reach does not limit to metros but tier two and three cities as well. Even the audience are more likely to prefer podcasts over other competing mediums because the content flows seamlessly even through advertisements. Last but not the least, the ripple effect, word of mouth, and the power to revive the nostalgia will make podcasts the next big thing in 2020.