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New Kid On The Block: The Rise Of Audio Platforms What was a rage in the form of the radio in the 60s, has now taken shape in the form of audio platforms which can keep us engaged when driving, walking, waiting for someone or trying to sleep at night.

By Kabir Singh Bhandari

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The mid-2000s saw the advent of social media networking with sites such as Orkut, which were overtaken later by the Facebook blitzkrieg. Around the same time, YouTube handed us the ability to be able to see all those songs, cartoons, ads and more which we thought we had left back in our childhood. OTT platforms first came in the form of Netflix, forever changing the way we spent our leisure time at home and making 'binge watching' a part of our daily vocabulary. And now, the next addition to our daily dose of entertainment is the audioverse- podcasts. What was a rage in the form of the radio in the 60s, has now taken shape in the form of podcasts which can keep us engaged when driving, walking, waiting for someone or trying to sleep at night.

Audio series are leading audience engagement, beating online music and short and long-form video content, and an analysis by two platforms, Pocket FM and IVM Podcasts has proof enough.

First, let's look at what the Pocket FM report tells us. According to significant statistics, out of 45 billion minutes of streaming, 90 per cent of the time was spent on audio series, the top 10 audio series registering over 1.5 billion plays with more than 10 billion listening minutes.

The report which highlighted key consumption and listener community trends on the platform for 2022 had several other interesting finds too. According to industry data, 45 minutes of average daily user's time was spent on short video platforms, while audio OTTs and video OTTs clocked 65 minutes and 70 minutes respectively. On the contrary, the average daily listener time spent is over 110 minutes on Pocket FM.

Audio Series are now the entertainment boosters for listeners during commute, household chores, work hours, and even, during leisure hours, reiterating the strength of audio series' to keep the audience engaged, and entertained 24x7, irrespective of their activities.

Leisure hours account for nearly 50 per cent of total listening time spent by consumers. Time slots between 9 am -12 pm and 9 pm -12 am have the maximum number of listeners tuned in, accounting for 35 per cent of the total daily time spent on Pocket FM. The listening pattern throughout the day follows similar patterns. The listener community of Pocket FM has a healthy gender ratio, with males and females having 55 per cent and 45 per cent presence, respectively.

According to the Government of India, there are eight Tier I cities in India. These eight cities contribute 15 per cent of Pocket FM's listener community. While Delhi and Mumbai lead the Top 10 cities, others like Lucknow, Indore, Patna also fare in the list of Pocket FM top listeners, including little-known Botad from Gujarat.

Rohan Nayak, CEO, Pocket FM said, "With an objective to redefine the entertainment space, Pocket FM has been able to create the binge factor through its audio series. Furthermore, our audio series have managed to drive similar consumption behaviour, sometimes even better, witnessed by any television content. It reflects in our listeners' intent to pay for audio series, and increasing time-spent on the content."

Founded in 2018, Pocket FM was built with a vision to redefine the audio OTT space by pioneering the audio-series category, and are available on iOS and Android.

IVM Podcasts, another market leader, had also undertaken a research to understand the consumption patterns of their customers in the audio-streaming market. Out of the 3,200 Indian podcast listeners surveyed, 2592 i.e. 81 per cent have heard their first podcast in the last 12 months, pointing out to a large number of new listeners the industry has amassed.

The steady increase in listenership led the network to delve deeper into the reasons and patterns of listener consumption. For the survey, the gender ratio of the sample size was 70:30 (Male: Female). This proportion is reflective of the digital universe of India, which was arrived at based on data from InMobi and Glance.

Some key findings:

  1. 73 per cent of Indian audiences listen to English language podcasts
  2. 40 per cent of the 35+ audience tuned in for the first time over the last 6 months
  3. The top 3 favourite podcast genres were News Policy Comedy, Entertainment and Business & Finance.
  4. 97 per cent of podcast audiences are tuning in from their smartphones.
  5. 56 per cent trust brands advertised on podcasts

Commenting on the survey findings, Amit Doshi, Head, IVM Podcasts , Pratilipi said, "In addition to a sharp increase in the number of podcast listeners, the industry has noticed substantial changes in the listeners consumption habits. It is now important to further explore target audiences in greater detail and comprehend the subtleties of consumer behaviour. Healthy opportunities for monetisation were present this year, and we expect these chances to diversify in the upcoming year as well. With the competition getting tough, impactful collaborations will play a key role in increasing chances of success."

The author can be reached at bkabir@entrepreneurindia.com and Instagram.com/kabirsinghbhandari

Kabir Singh Bhandari

Former Senior Assistant Editor

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