This week I discuss predictions for the development of podcasting, the launch of the new Google podcast player app for the Android smartphone operating system, statistics on podcasting listening from Australia and from UK children aged 9-14 and the latest podcasting report from Texas A&M University.
Websites and articles mentioned in the show:
Google launches podcast player for Android – https://media.info/radio/news/google-launches-podcast-player-for-android
5 Predictions for the future of Podcasting – http://jacobsmedia.com/iheart-radio-chris-peterson-podcasting
Edison Research: Australian Podcast Consumer report – http://rainnews.com/edison-research-all-eyes-on-australia-in-new-podcast-consumer-report/
Audience Measurement with Nielsen – http://www.downloadonpodcasting.com/insights
What-9-14-year-olds-listen-to – https://radiotoday.co.uk/2017/07/survey-reveals-what-9-14-year-olds-listen-to
Google launches a podcast player for Android, Trouble at Radionomy and StreamLicensing plus Podcast Listening Stats from Australia.
And we’re back! After an unscheduled hiatus I am very happy to be back with my little podcast. Welcome to episode 32. I’m your host Richard Dally. Each week I curate and discuss the latest news in podcasting and Internet Radio with a focus on the smaller podcaster, radio host and DJ.
Let’s get started.
Radio futurologist, James Cridland writes for media.info this week on the launch by Google of a podcast player for the Android operating system. Now strangely this this seems to have been done very quietly but could have a significant impact on podcast listening.
As James notes, Android is the most popular mobile operating system in the world, with 81% of the market compared with Apple’s iOS at just 17.9%. Until now, to listen to podcasts on an Android phone meat having to download a podcast player app.
Pre-installing a player in the operating system should make it easier to listen to podcasts and will make many more people aware of podcasts I think. James says it’s unclear whether the podcast listing that this app uses is from Google Play Music or another source. It looks like the app is fairly basic at the moment but it seems likely Google will develop this over time and they have a good opportunity to capture a sizeable portion of the podcast player market.
Now how much of an impact on total listenership this will have is likely to depend on what podcasts the app provides access too – will they eventually be able to pull in podcasts from the iTunes app for instance? If so, that could really make this a big deal.
Next, let’s look at a guest article by Chris Peterson for the Jacobs Media blog. Chris Peterson is the Senior Vice President of Podcasting for iHeartRadio and he lists his 5 Podcasting Predictions for the next couple of years.
Let’s take a look at the list. I think it neatly lays out some of the biggest discussions going on in podcasting right now.
Number 1: Real Analytics… Finally
One of the biggest complaints of podcasters is that they really have no idea who is listening or if listening even took place after the podcast was downloaded. We are now starting to see solutions to this being proposed – I’ll discuss one from Neilsen later in this episode and, of course, there is the recent announcement from Apple on their intention to provide more data from the Apple Podcasts app once iOS 11 is released in the Autumn.
Chris’s second prediction is that Better Data will equal More Brands which equals More Money.
His thought here is that better data will open the floodgates to new advertisers. Now I’m not sure how true this is going to be – certainly in the short-term. I think there will be quite a long period of analysis before the new figures are trusted, and because advertisers will have to find the right podcasts and podcasters to work with there is going to be a period of adjustment – with a lot of work needing to be done on both sides (and of course by intermediary agencies) to actually start targeting ads efficiently using the available data.
Number 3 – Podcasting moves into the mainstream
I have to be honest and I don’t see anything happening now that is suddenly going to accelerate the growth of podcasting. Podcasting has been growing steadily, year on year, with the occasional bump caused by things such as the emdedding of the Apple Podcasts app in iOS.
It’s possible Google’s recent release of an Android podcast app – which I just mentioned – could be one of those inflection points but it’s just too early yet to say that for certain. The challenge remains how to introduce podcasts to those not familiar with them – and no, I am not talking about the so-called discoverability problem.
It’s about podcasters needing to find ways to better promote their shows to new audiences and not about audio listeners desperately looking for new content to consume – time listening to podcasts pretty much has to come at the expense of other media.
The fourth prediction is: “Alexa, play ____”
Will smart speakers and virtual assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Home and the new Apple product provide a new opportunity for podcasts. It’s certainly a great opportunity for audio content creators generally and I can see some podcasts being repurposed to be suitable for this medium for sure.
Lastly, number 5: New Content for New Listeners
Chris discussed the opportunity for podcasts to expand to provide content that will attract new listeners. I’m not really sure this is much different from prediction three but I can see that those who use the smart speaker devices to listen to the latest news, for example, might be encouraged to listen to podcasts containing content that might previously have been the subject of talk radio shows.
Radio personalities are definitely getting interested in podcasting, with some of them have already switched exclusively to the medium and many may be able to bring their audience with them. I hope I didn’t sound too negative about the article – there are some good points made but some of the ideas might not be achievable in the timeframes proposed.
Let’s look at some podcast statistics now. Edison Research has released it’s first Podcast Consumer report covering Australia.
Anna Washenko for Rain News discusses the results and reports that the australian results start strong, as familiarity with podcasting is at 72%. 29% of the respondents to the survey had listened to at least one podcast at sometime, while 17% had listened to a show in the past month.
Some interesting demographic trends can be seen among the monthly podcast listeners. Compared with the general Australian population, podcast listeners are more likely to be employed full time and to make annual salaries of more than $100,000.
Half of weekly podcast listeners spent under three hours tuned in during an average week, while 30% listened to five or more hours. The weekly audience listens to an average of six podcasts while 56% of monthly listeners said they listen to entire episodes; 36% said they listen to “most” of the podcast.
The Edison report provides some direct comparisons with the latest U.S. results for the same questions about podcasting’s audience. The U.S.at 60% had lower familiarity with the term podcasting than the Australian survey participants (at 72%) but interestingly listenership rates in the US are higher.
I’ll put a link to the download page for the report in the shownotes for this episode. The report covers listener demographics, Podcast Consumption, Device Usage and Social Media Behaviours.
Something for online DJs now. Rain news reports on some licensing issues that are starting to impact small webcasters. Brad Hill says that they have started to hear from webcasting clients of two of the largest hosting companies, Radionomy and StreamLicensing.
Webcasters have told Rain News of recent changes that are impacting their webcast stations. Perhaps not surprisingly, the issues are about music licensing. One station owner hosting on Radionomy, told Rain News that voice announcements appeared in station streams notifying customers that station listening in the U.S. would be limited to Radionomy-owned players.
It seems Radionomy has restricted streaming from some 3rd-party platforms to encourage use of their own web channels and app. iTunes, WinAMP (which is owned by Radionomy), connected devices, and smart speakers can all still be used for streaming. Apparently this restriction of streaming is being done to control streaming levels and the resultant cost of music licensing in the US.
Radionomy also told Rain News that advertisers are less interested in non-Radionomy distribution apps, so monetization of Radionomy’s ad-supported business is more difficult through them.
StreamLicensing is also having issues with licensing. The US licensing authority ASCAP has terminated StreamLicensing’s ASCAP license. ASCAP is one of the world’s largest Performing Rights Organizations (PROs) and represents songwriters who partially own a significant portion of recorded music that is played on internet radio.
Apparently ASCAP has approached station owners on the StreamLicensing platform directly and invited them to “obtain a discounted, easy-to-administer license agreement directly from ASCAP.” The complaint of station owners is that their hosting plans with StreamLicensing are supposed to include music licensing.
ASCAP says that StreamLicensing has breached its license, and failed to pay for at least some recent licensing periods. StreamLicensing told RAIN News that the company had been inaccurately billed for some royalties and that they have hired an independent auditing firm to investigate.
This one is likely to run for a while yet and it is the small online radio stations that are caught in the middle and I suspect many will be looking for other platforms soon.
Texas A&M Univerisity and DMR Interactive have just published their latest report on podcasting. This time they are looking at a topic close to many podcasters hearts – audience measurement. I have to stay that the report itself does seem a little bit like a thinly viewed promotion for a new product from Nielsen Audio. I’m sure it’s not designed that way but that’s how I felt it comes across.
The article focuses on the differences between streaming and downloads and champions the need for a way to measure podcast downloads in similar ways to how radio uses PPM and diaries to provide impartial validation of metrics.
There does seem to be a lot of scepticism around concerning reported download numbers – as if many podcasters inflate their own numbers when talking about them. I’m really not sure that’s the case and, of course, it only becomes a concern when advertisers become involved and want numbers they can trust. Plus the advertisers would also love to have more demographic and other consumption data which they assume that because podcasts are a digital medium, should be easy to capture.
If you’re interested in some of the challenges that radio has faced because of measurement systems in the past I recommend a recent article from Nieman Journalism Lab. As radio measurements got more sophisticated, it changed how radio programmers viewed their audiences. I’ll link to the Niemen article in the shownotes, at www.richarddally.com/32
Nielsen has developed an SDK – that’s a Software Development Kit – that aims to capture data from the podcast player apps installed on devices such as smartphones. Now this is not the first time this kind of thing has been done – back at the start of 2017 iHeartMedia and Art19 partnered to announce the implementation of an API to share better analytics with podcasters on the iHeartRadio platform.
The idea of this new solution is that app suppliers would install Neilsen’s SDK code in their app and then usage data would be captured and sent to Neilsen for analysis. Neilsen also has a partnership with Facebook that would probably allow them to match podcast data with the Facebook usage on a device – this would allow them to gather demographic information as well as listening statistics.
Now of course the problem with this approach is that the majority of podcast listening is still done through the Apple Podcasts app. How likely is it that Apple are going to implement Neilsen’s SDK? Unlikely at best I would think.
I have a feeling that the more casual listener will tend to use the installed App and it is the more dedicated podcast listener who seeks out the other podcast apps. This could well lead to some skewed data.
It will be interesting to see if there is any take up of this approach to data gathering for podcasts. For now, most will be waiting to see how Apples announcements on improved podcast measurement in iOS 11 pan out before looking at other approaches.
Radio Today UK has an intriguing story on a survey which reveals what different types of audio 9-14 year olds are listening to. This is from the latest Junior Audio Measurement Joint Audience Research produced by RAJAR.
So what are the stats? Well 74% of 9-14 year olds listen to the radio each week. 61% listen to streamed music
And podcast listening? Well this is where things get a little strange. The research says that 18% claim to listen to podcasts weekly. Now I don’t get it. Why use the word “claim” here? Does this mean the researchers don’t believe the kids who responded to the survey? ALL of the other stats in the survey results are reported as definite statements – very strange.
Anyway, in terms of hours per week listened – podcasts show a very healthy 10.6 hours on average, while radio comes in at between 10.2 and 12.8 hours per week depending on the platform used to listen. These are certainly some healthy listening figures that point to a rosy future for both mediums.