Podstruck #4; March 15, 2021 (aka The Ides of March Edition)
News Numbers, Analysis, and Opinion by Dan Hart
Prologue: Why did I start the Podstruck newsletter and why should you sign up?
Podcasts are easy to access and use, and, as shown in last week’s Infinite Dial report from Edison and Triton, the number of listeners and creators is ballooning. Still, underneath the simple user experience, there is a dynamic business and creative ecosystem. It takes a depth of effort, knowledge and talent to succeed. Further, exploring podcasting in the context of audio at large - radio, audio books, functional sounds, voice AI, smart speakers, music, and more - amplifies these complexities and reveals the expansive opportunity ahead.
The Podstruck newsletter details events, market data, tech news, and consumer trends that show what is successful now, and indicate where the market is headed. And, beyond, but incorporated into the newsletter, I'll be posting deeper market sector studies on Podstruck.com. My goal is to create and share something useful and unique - even actionable - while learning and thinking out loud.
The Podstruck Newsletter will have a cadence of about once per week. Each addition will aim to offer new information, insight, ideas, strategies, new leads, and reminders of what’s important.
Feedback and dialogue are encouraged! I hope you sign up and find value, and, that I have a chance to talk with you about audio down the road.
Thanks! Dan Hart
Entercom acquired Podcorn for $22.5M ($14.6 cash with a performance earnout). Podcorn calls itself an “influencer marketplace” and provides a self-service platform for podcasters to connect directly to advertisers. Marketers can either self manage, or work directly with Podcorn teams. The platform charges a 10% platform service fee.
Podcorn is a relatively modest way for Entercom to bolt some podcast ad tech to their 2019 podcast content acquisitions (Cadence 13 and Pineapple Street Media). Podcorn aims to aggregate the long tail - brands can find niche creators at scale and smaller creators can find advertisers.
Sweden based Acast, a global podcast host with monetization and growth services, announced through a press release that it will “conduct a review of potential strategic and financial initiatives including...an initial public offering and listing of the company’s shares.” This Inside Radio piece has that story along with a slew of growth data from Acast.
Podchaser acquired Podcharts (cross app chart tracker) and Podrover (review aggregator) rolling together companies that provide marketing and data services to podcast creators, and, of course, start with the popular prefix Pod.
Inside Radio reports on the strategic vision of iHeart’s senior management post Triton acquisition.
The Amazon/Wondery deal closed and Hernan Lopez exited the company. While Wondery is officially an Amazon Music play, it also carries value for Amazon’s Audible business and Amazon Studios - not to mention Echo/Alexa.
Products and Content
Apple News: Apple switches its labelling from “Subscribe” to “Follow” for podcasts. Podnews broke the story and pointed out that several other significant players including Stitcher, Spotify, and Amazon (Music and Audible) already use Follow. Tom Webster of Edison cheers the move feeling it will clarify that podcasts in the open are free of charge, and will clear the way for the word “Subscribe” to apply to premium podcasts only.
I am a believer in clear and simple labels. In the early 2000’s at Yahoo!, we changed a front page link from “Astrology” to “Horoscopes” and it gave a permanent and big boost to the click rate.
Apple slimmed it’s smart speaker lineup to just the $99 HomePod mini by discontinuing the weaker selling $299 HomePod (which reviewers say has great sound quality). While the HomePod Mini is cheap compared to the HomePod, it is premium priced compared to comparable products from category leaders Amazon (Echo Dot) and Google (Nest Mini). According to Edison’s 2021 Infinite Dial Report (see below) the HomePod line carries just 1% of the smart speaker market.
Twitter Spaces audio chat rooms (aka Twitter’s Clubhouse) will launch broadly in April. Given the interest and connection graph already built into Twitter, many expect it will grow quickly and become the odds on category favorite despite Clubhouse’s head start with tens of millions of users.
For some new content, check out Podcast Business Journal’s running list of New Podcasts.
The 2021 Infinite Dial is drawn from a statistically significant survey driven from 1,507 phone interviews conducted primarily in January of this year.
The Online Audio audience continues to grow: 68% of the US population, or 193 Million monthly consumers are online audio listeners; 91%, or 176M listen weekly for an average of 16 hours and 14 minutes per week; Both the weekly %/Monthly % and the time spent indicate significant engagement
Audio Services: Pandora has 83% brand awareness while Spotify is second at 76%; However, When asked if they currently ever use a service: Spotify drew 31% and Pandora just 18%. I would love to see the Net Promoter Scores for Online Audio brands;
Smart Speakers: 33% of Americans 12+ (94M people) own a smart speaker and its usually Alexa at 24% vs. Google Home at 13%; Apple HomePod rules the smart speaker roost in just 1% of households -- but don’t discount the tens of millions of iPhone users talking with Siri every day.
A Majority (53%) of smart speaker households have two or more; and over a third (34%) have three or more.
Podcasting: 78% of, or 222 Million, Americans say they know what podcasts are; 162M (57% in total, or 73% of those aware of podcasts), identify as listeners at some point.
Podcasts have 116M monthly listeners, reaching 41% the US population;
80 Million Americans (28%) listen weekly. Weekly listeners average eight podcast episodes drawn from 5.1 shows each week. Weekly listeners comprise 69% of monthly listeners
Since 2018, weekly listening behavior has grown at a CAGR of 18%: from 17M to 28M
A couple of music podcast recommendations to close the letter. They embody the best of both documentary and evergreen podcasting:
Final Sessions is a four episode documentary podcast leading up to the release of Harry Nilsson’s posthumous album Losst and Founnd. The Album and podcast were both released in November of 2019. If you enjoy the podcast, you might also like the documentary film Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin' About Him)?
A 2014 episode of the Unfictional Podcast from KCRW relates three stories about Eden Ahbez who wrote the song Nature Boy. Nature Boy endures as one of the 20th Century’s most famous songs. You may recognize the definitive Nat King Cole version from 1948, or the version used in the film Moulin Rouge sung by David Bowie.