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COVID-19 Is Evolving Podcasting as We Know It

The global pandemic has upended our entire nation. When we think of the aftermath since the coronavirus first struck the United States, it still leaves us with a great deal of uncertainty.  Everyone from healthcare workers to business leaders to tradesmen are watching as everything around them changes, and there’s nothing they can do about […]

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The global pandemic has upended our entire nation. When we think of the aftermath since the coronavirus first struck the United States, it still leaves us with a great deal of uncertainty. 

Everyone from healthcare workers to business leaders to tradesmen are watching as everything around them changes, and there’s nothing they can do about it other than to roll with the punches. Nothing is the same, and it may never be the same again.

But when we look closer at certain sectors, not all of them have a negative story to tell. COVID-19’s shock has actually jolted some industries alive. Far-reaching technological adoption, an increased consumer consumption, and a spike in advertiser’s reallocating their budgets to make the most impact during the pandemic, podcasting is having its moment. And it’s a big one.

This is great news, of course, but how exactly is podcasting changing under COVID-19’s influence? Let’s unpack this.

Listenership is at an all-time high

The pandemic has made content junkies of us all. Americans are flocking to podcasts with a newfound vigor. 

This shouldn’t come as a surprise. With more Americans working remotely in compliance with coronavirus safety protocols, it means more freedom to listen to whatever they want while they work. And since people have started social distancing, there’s been an 18 percent increase in adult listenership and even more millennials and Gen Zers tuning into their podcasts-of-choice. 

When people are forced to spend more time indoors, they spend more time on media. This was true during Hurricane Harvey, the 2016 Snowpocalypse, and now COVID-19. Podcasting is welcoming new listeners who want to be educated, entertained, and just want some semblance of normal in the face of anything but normalcy. So, what podcasts are securing the most listenership?

According to research, some of the hottest podcasts are about current news and events, true crime, food, music, entertainment, and educational-based topics. Take “The Joe Rogan Experience” on Spotify. The popular talk show is currently experiencing over 190 million downloads per month. Another Spotify podcast, “Science Vs,” shifted its focus to the coronavirus and has since doubled the number of episodes it creates every week.

It’s obvious that listeners are hungry for content, and so are podcast creators.

Podcasters are growing and adapting

Anyone would be lying if they said they’ve never thought about starting their own podcast. These creative outlets are a great way to express your interests and opinions to a global audience. And since the pandemic, there’s even more people who want to listen to what you have to say. 

Recently, Apple topped over 1,000,000 podcasts. Same with Spotify. People who have always dreamed of starting a podcast are finally getting their chance. As more creators stay at home, they have time to proactively and financially invest in their creative endeavors. Getting started in podcasting costs about as much as it would to get into bread baking, and it’s also one of the most convenient outlets to explore in the midst of a pandemic since you can do it in the comfort of your own home. 

More experienced podcasters are also adapting their formats to support a more safe environment. The “My Dad Wrote a Porno” podcast, for example, has set up live listen-along sessions on their social media platforms. Their most recent episode saw a 642 percent increase in listens compared to just the week prior, proving that adapting to unprecedented times can actually have a positive impact on numbers and profitability.

There’s no end in sight for the pandemic, so a more virtual landscape will be the new ‘norm’ for podcasters for the near future.

Increased advertisements

The podcast advertising industry is booming; where there are opportunities, advertisers will follow. Previously, podcasting only accounted for a small portion of advertising spend, but that’s about to change. Because of this major shift, it’s predicted that podcast advertising will surpass $1 billion by next year.

We know that podcasting is one of the fastest — if not the fastest — growing industries. We know this increased interest comes at a time when listeners use podcasts for education and entertainment. This is the exact type of engagement that advertisers want to be a part of, especially when the pandemic has forced companies to reexamine and tighten their budgets. 

In this climate, pursuing certain traditional marketing platforms just doesn’t make sense. Just as podcasters are having to adapt to a new landscape, advertisers are seeking marketing options that will still target the right demographics while giving them the best return-on-investment. For many, that’s podcasts. As early as the beginning of this year, over 10 industries have already begun increasing their podcast advertising spend.

There haven’t been many silver linings in this pandemic so far, but widespread adoption of podcasting has been one of them. Happy listening.

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