Audio streaming gains popularity as homebound listeners seek variety

With an estimated 57.6 million monthly listeners, India is the third-largest podcast listening market after China and the US, according to analysts at PwC

The play around content and originals that has largely been equated with video-streaming platforms is fast gripping the audio streaming space.

Companies are building on their slate of podcasts, a segment that is increasingly finding favour with more users. Players are curating exclusive podcasts or originals in collaboration with their network of creators, as well as getting licensed content. While podcasts have been gaining ground for some time now, their consumption has increased during the pandemic as home-bound consumers experimented with varied content. A dip in fresh movie releases may have also prompted users to shift to podcasts that span genres.

Spotify, for instance, today has more than 30 original podcasts in English, Hindi, Tamil and Telugu. Hindi and English podcasts have been the most popular on the platform. “The curiosity around non-music audio has increased over the year. Listeners are increasingly shifting to podcasts, consuming content around self-motivation, fiction, thriller, horror, mythology, and education,” a company spokesperson told FE.

The firm attributes the growth of podcasts to the surge in India’s creator community from across cities. “This boom is supported by the availability and ease of using podcast creation and distribution tools such as Anchor, leading to increased creation and consumption of content across languages,” added the spokesperson.

JioSaavn, which has already managed to build a library of podcasts covering 500 hours of original content across languages, is investing in shorter format podcasts, especially those that are in sync with the present times to get more users to tune into the segment.
One such podcast it recently produced is Working From Home. The strategy may have worked; the firm claims to have seen a four-time increase in paid subscriptions last year.

“In 2020, with the lockdown, we noticed listeners who had historically not tuned into podcasts experimenting with the medium. In 2021 we are likely to see people turning to podcasts for hyper specific reasons — to learn a particular subject, self improvement, on-demand content, content across various genres, etc,” said a company spokesperson.

Spotify and JioSaavn have also deftly enabled users to socialise via their platforms. They have introduced features allowing users to share podcast episodes and music tracks with their contacts through social media platforms like Instagram.

Wynk licenses audio content from podcast creation platform Hubhopper and has added about 4,000 podcasts with 40,000 episodes to complement its music library that hosts nearly 14 million songs. The Airtel-owned streaming platform that has over 72 million monthly active users said listeners are turning to podcast genres like health and wellness and spirituality.

“With the growth of platforms, the need to differentiate will continue to increase, giving rise to the need for varied and exclusive content,” said analysts at EY.

With an estimated 57.6 million monthly listeners, India is the third-largest podcast listening market after China and the US, according to analysts at PwC. Supported by entry of foreign players and original content on topics including news, society, culture and sports, the country’s monthly podcast listener base is expected to grow at a CAGR of 30.4% between 2020-2024, they said.

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