Within the binge of digital entertainment that we have given ourselves during confinement, there is an especially significant data: listening to podcasts has increased by 25% according to the study The State of the Podcast Universe, by Voxnext, which covers the first half of the year.
Greater accessibility for users – thanks to the incorporation of podcasts on platforms such as Spotify-, the supply of reliable information inherited from radio and the freshness of the native productions of this medium are among the main reasons that have made thousands of listeners first approach or become familiar with the format during confinement.
“If you are used to watching television series on Netflix, the podcast is a breath of fresh air, because entertainment is different,” explains Elena Neira, collaborating professor at the Information and Communication Sciences Studies at the Open University de Catalunya (UOC). “There has been a very significant increase in all digital entertainment: digital books and consumer digital movies in streaming, buying digital movies … and, in particular, listening to podcasts.
I think that in this confinement basically what we have done it means varying a lot in the formats and spending a lot of time discovering new things, “he adds about the increase in consumption of this medium, which attracts younger audiences. Specific, Efraín Foglia, professor at the UOC’s Information and Communication Sciences Studies, focuses on the podcast as an informative medium for listeners who distrust the official media. According to a study carried out by the Media Psychology Lab, radio is the medium that best adapts to crises and the one perceived as the most credible by its audience.
The podcast would have inherited those qualities from its predecessor: “If there were some reasons to be given for this increase, one would be the search for alternative information to unofficial channels, a little because of the doubt of the official status and also because of the slowness of these channels Radio has always been an appropriate medium in these types of territories, podcasts have been born specifically on the subject of confinement and a good number of projects that were dormant have been activated.
Collective cooperation practices or solidarity projects have also been launched in very interesting neighborhoods, among which we could mention Radio El Lokal, in Barcelona. According to the UOC’s own measurement systems, the consumption of this type of content has risen up to three times compared to before the pandemic “.
Although the consumption data obtained during the months of confinement is spectacular, they have not surprised the industry, since the success of this medium had been cooking for a few years until reaching its peak in 2019.
“Today, the podcast is taking an incredible speed. Basically, those who as an institution, group, collective or medium did not have a podcast, or are considering it or have already begun to do so  “, says Efraín Foglia.
In this process, the entry into play of platforms such as Spotify has a lot to do with it: “It is not the same to listen to a podcast from a particular radio application or on iVoox, for example, than on Spotify, which is a service that is very much incorporated in our day-to-day lives and that allows much greater accessibility due to the fact that we do not have to download a specific program or type “www” and search for it on the internet.
In this sense, the fact that services such as Spotify or iTunes have included the podcast and have put it in value has fueled this access of new audiences to the format “, explains Professor Elena Neira. Spotify, with a large investment of 500 million dollars in the podcasting sector – it has acquired the studios Parcast and Gilmet Media, as well as Anchor, an application for the creation of podcasts – is not the only giant in the industry. that bets on this format.
Sony has also made million-dollar investments and emerging companies (start-ups) such as Luminary or Himalaya have received capital worth 100 million dollars. The official estimate is that in 2021 the podcast industry will generate 1 billion dollars, according to a study by the Interactive Advertising Agency of the United States (IAB).
What have we heard?
According to the aforementioned Voxnext study, among the listening preferences of Spaniards during confinement there have been audios of science, health, politics, society, culture and comedy, in that order. Particularly successful have been podcasts such as My Favorite Year, by Arturo González-Campos and Dani Rovira, or Weekly Deform, with Isa Calderón and Lucía Lijtmaer.
In addition, the ease of producing and broadcasting podcasts has led many content creators to approach this medium during the pandemic: “Many influencers or well-known people have decided to adapt to podcast production as a way to continue communicating with their audience. It’s a bit like the phenomenon of Instagram Live: many people were at home with a lot of free time and decided to explore the possibilities of this new format, “explains Neira.
As for the content of a cultural nature – such as musicians who offered concerts from this medium or with live reproduction (streaming) -, what has been seen, according to Professor Foglia, is that it has been a round-trip phenomenon: ” For musicians, for example, it has been very easy to adapt to this format because they had the tools, but what has been seen is that, as soon as the confinement is over, they have once again bet on face-to-face concerts, even if they are with capacity. reduced, and rates have returned to pre-pandemic levels. “
One more element, although almost indispensable, within the digital ecosystem This is how this new medium is conceived today, which years ago surpassed the label of “canned radio”. Its peculiarities – such as the possibility of fragmenting the public, the attractiveness for young people or the few means that are needed to produce it – mean that the industry has made a clear bet, with investments and expectations of millionaire profits.
For listeners, both those who have explored its possibilities in the pandemic and those who were already hooked on before, the great attractions of the podcast would be the friendliness of consumption -the availability of the product and the possibility of combining it with other tasks-, in addition to that closeness, that direct connection with the emotional world that sound, the human voice and music have, experimentation territory of this new medium that tells stories in your ear.