• Basya Benshushan

The Power of the Podcast

Updated: Dec 18, 2017

Rewind to before the digital world changed everything. Before computers. Before

television. Before anything visual. All we had was radio. Families gathered around this

invention every Sunday night, relying on it as their sole source of entertainment.

The entire family could be captivated and immersed in stories; closing their eyes and

creating their OWN visuals, according to what they heard. Imagination was much riper

back then. Today, we’re spoon-fed storylines with pre-created visuals.

Well, unless you believe in the untapped power...of podcasts.

In today’s digital world, podcasts are the underdog. Audio represents the most powerful and intimate way of sharing ideas. But...why isn’t the concept reeling in more people? Podcasts offer a massive opportunity; disconnecting occasional users and regular users. It astounded us that 40% of American adults have given podcasting a go, but only half of them listen regularly. No other medium has this frightening gap.

Maybe there isn’t enough variety. Perhaps podcasts don’t cater to enough audiences.

There are countless appetites out there, each one calling for a different audio-meal. It boils

down to this: there is an overload of information in the digital era. The problem isn’t the

discovery process, but rather...discovering meaningful experiences. Podcasts need to

make people think, ponder and wander – and most importantly, feel alive.

So, people worldwide have come up with a new plan – to adapt podcasts to other forms of media. Most prominently – television. For example, a popular experimental fiction podcast, Homecoming, was picked up for a second TV adaptation season. Julia Roberts was secured for the lead. The story was also turned into an eBook called The Lost Coast; a separate story that’s still related to the podcast’s narrative.

The podcast-to-television trend is actually nothing new, but Gimlet (creators of

homecoming) are reimagining the landscape as we know it. The company compared their long-term business strategy to that of Marvel; where stories originate in experimental, low-

cost formats, later evolving into highly profitable formats. The potential is incredible, and for the amount of effort and resources people pump into their podcasts, they might as well squeeze those lemons for all they’re worth.

There’s no reason why these followings can’t be as massive as Game of Thrones or the Walking Dead. In fact, podcasts are far more accessible, use far less data, AND one can listen to them while doing other things. Like driving or cooking.

By adapting podcasts to other forms of media, we can create vast opportunities for

creativity and originality. However, we are still in the early days. We’re surrounded by a

plethora of helpful facts that we can use to revive the power of sound.

For example, the home is still the most popular place for podcast streaming. In-car

podcasts are still growing, and active podcast listeners are more male. 65% of listeners

listen more than half of the audio, but only 46% completely finish what they started. In

other words, length is extremely important when it comes to determining completion rates.

Some of the biggest names in the world are embracing the power of the podcast, including The New York Times with their audio project, The EP. Each quick episode features a small conversation with a critic about a song, and it’s growing in popularity.

If household names can continue to promote and encourage podcasts, with smart, short, sharp formats that keeps people engaged, we can tap into the incredible “power of the podcast” and redefine the future of entertainment forever.

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