Originally suggested by Ben Hammersley as a portmanteau (a linguistic blend of words) of “iPod” and “broadcast”, the word “Podcast” is now a buzzword occupying every Indian audiophile’s list. With the penetration of mobile internet across multiple geographies in the Indian subcontinent, the past few years have witnessed the emergence of the podcast wave which has successfully taken over the traditional audio streaming industry. Podcasts offer meaningful, informative, and enriching content that is acquiring an increasing appeal amongst consumers of all generations and varied interests.
The modern-day fast-moving millennials of today, who have grown up with wide-ranging exposure to diverse digital products and services available at the click of their fingertips, are driving new-age entertainment service providers to restructure and realign their core strategies and functions. Craving easily accessible content which is streamlined and digestible, consumers are switching to podcasts to increase the value derived through audio entertainment.
Emerging trends in India’s podcast industry
Trending podcasts are highly diverse and high on entertainment such as those that bring together prolific stand-up comedians in an informative and hilarious series, and those that feature different celebrities in each episode infused with unique puns and classic entendre, amongst a plethora of others. Additionally, there are podcasts geared towards promoting indie music culture, those that cater to the origins and evolution of food, and even those that are a perfect fit for sports enthusiasts, with updates on cricket, tennis, racing, etc.
As audiences today crave content that is multidimensional, insightful, informative, well-thought-out, and researched, several podcasts have emerged which help one dive into history, explore science, and understand cultural nuances. A popular podcast series covers topics such as sales, design, marketing, psychology, financing, etc. to help startups venture into the business landscape with new-found confidence and calibre. There are also those that offer a mix of science, culture, and history in India to cater to audiences seeking original thinking and eloquence.
Guess what – there’s even an engaging podcast series to ensure that you don’t miss out on any TV shows, films, YouTube videos, web series, and more!
Furthermore, there are podcasts that offer everything for stimulating one’s intellect by collating expert-led inter-disciplinary discussions inclusive of subjects such as philosophy, politics, economics, science, art, and medicine.
Why podcasts, indeed? For one thing, they are not as cluttered as other consumer entertainment channels. Do you not dislike ads popping up before and during online video streaming, or flashing at the borders of almost every website visited? Today’s young audience shares this sentiment. Fingers hover to skip video ads as soon as they are allowed to be skipped, while banner ads are now ignored completely by most.
Podcasts don’t struggle with this challenge of fragmented content consumption. Podcast creation and aggregation platforms give audiences across geographies and age groups what they want and respond to. With advertising content seamlessly plugged into the native content flow, they deliver the brand message without disrupting the end-user experience. Another major factor driving the popularity of podcasts amongst millennial audiences is the flexibility that they offer. Millennials are renowned for their multitasking capabilities, and podcasts engage them with their preferred content without requiring their full attention.
This leaves them free to prepare their meals, take a walk in the park, or do some tidying up around the house – all while listening to their daily dose of entertainment, motivation, or self-help.
The launch of AI-enabled platforms in India has also allowed for personalized content aggregation and publishing. Consumers can access podcasts from across the web – filtered to match their specific tastes and preferences – in easy-to-consume pieces. This data-driven approach also benefits content creators, allowing them to monitor end-user experiences and analyze content performance.
Also, through podcast advertisements which do not follow strict time restrictions and can be permanently integrated into the podcast audio file, modern-day advertisers can reach wider audiences over longer periods of time.
The future of audio streaming
Qualitative podcasts for the sophisticated Indian mind are set to transform the way we create and consume content, particularly with platforms offering podcasts for a consumer of every kind and introducing new categories for diversifying the customer base. Consumers can now plug in and listen to podcasts which offer expert advice on self-motivation, provide self-help audio training sessions, host speakers with diverse opinions from across the political spectrum, and enable citizens to find their own voice in a chaotic urban Indian landscape.
The ease, quality, and consumer-friendly features offered by podcasts are set to continue accommodating popular trends and innovations to generate new-age content that is stimulating, experientially-rich, and forward-thinking. Podcasts are the need of the hour in the time of the digitalisation boom and are set to influence India’s understanding of what it means to be seamlessly informed, entertained, and connected in an age of information overload.
Gautam Raj Anand is the Founder and CEO of Hubhopper, India’s largest podcast directory and content aggregator.