Podcasting in India - A Journey Through Hills
The year 2019 has been exciting for on-demand content and its consumers, so far. With Netflix’s introducing Mobile Subscription Plan it is clear that mobile devices rule across platforms. The Average Indian audience spends 20-50 minutes every day on video content. On the other hand, an average of 10-20 minutes is spent on audio content. However, the number of audiences and the market size is still comparatively low.
While India is witnessing rising domestic market players such as IVM Podcasts, there are also international players who have entered the market such as BBC. These trends have increased the attractiveness for sponsors and advertisers contributing to the economic value of the Indian audio content market. However, to stay ahead of the curve market players need to address the lack of democratisation of audio content.
Unlike the video content on Youtube, the audio shows and podcasts in India lacks participation of individual creators. While YouTubers are turning in to new age stars, there are very few individual content creators for audio. This is due to a perception among creators that the Audio content adds less face value for the creators as compared to Youtube videos which discourage the content creation. However, the perception has been proven wrong by one of the biggest podcast personalities in the world JOE ROGAN who is a youtube podcast. Among Indian podcast listeners, Youtube is not a very popular platform in India however, YouTube's Premium account which lets users play audio in the background can change this behaviour.
The anchor is an app which lets users create podcast and export it to multiple podcast players for free. It also offers useful insights and analytics, creators can understand and grow their audience base. With 500,000+ downloads 'anchor.fm' helping India to democratise podcasting.
The culture podcasting in India is not a new trend. In the year 2006, there were 3000 podcasters across India, creating podcasts in Hindi, English and in many regional languages. As there are 22 major spoken languages in India, the localisation of the content becomes a difficult task. Currently, such level of localisation is only possible for FM radio, where hundreds of people tune in to their local FM radio station and listen to the news in their native language. Although, there have been experiments where the social commentary podcasts were broadcast ed in a few local radio station in order to increase the reach, creating content in multiple regional languages has proven to be not feasible.
India’s linguistic diversity is also one of the barriers against growth. As the market is scattered among various different regional languages, the financial viability of creating content in regional languages becomes even more challenging.
The audiobook platforms in India such as Audible and Storytel along with the newly entered music streaming platform Spotify has been increasingly spending on advertising specifically on podcasting platforms. This has created an advertising bubble, which is helping creators to make podcasting financially viable. However, in the long-term, these creators will have to look for new sponsors and advertisers or perhaps a new revenue model to keep this momentum continue.
Creating a synergy between quality content and technology is the way forward.
The new-age platforms such as Castbox are using AI and machine learning to curate the best podcast for every individual, using a recommendation engine. Castbox is also making the experience of listening to a podcast more conversational with their comments feature which is similar to YouTube.
Although the Indian market growth has been slower than some of the developed countries like the US and China, according to 2017 report, the Indian podcast market size has grown to 314 million US dollars in the last decade. The recent NPR report says that Indian audience listens to a podcast for 10-20 minutes on an average and 75% of them access their favorite podcast on a smartphone. However, the lack of data on genre and format preferences are forcing content creators to experiment and innovate.
Being one of the youngest countries and having the highest smartphone penetration in the world sets off a journey of podcasts with immense potential. However, the journey from a content creator to every household is still a distant future and it is a journey through rough hills.