We’ve heard it all before during the great podcast rush of the mid-aughts, right? Media experts debated what podcasts could be and wouldn’t be a decade ago. But while we still can’t pretend to know the future, this much is clear: today, right now, podcasts are the it thing.
And this time there’s real money behind it.
Today Public Radio Exchange’s (PRX) Radiotopia announced a $1 million contribution over the next two years from the Knight Foundation.
This news comes on the heels of public radio powerhouses WBEZ, NPR and WNYC hosting potential advertising partners–an opportunity to reach the audiences of networks boasting 6 of the top 10 podcasts downloaded in 2014, according to NPR.
Up is down, down is up and public radio folks are talking about making money:
“My hope is that we can move away from a model of asking listeners for money and join the free market,” said WBEZ’s “This American Life” host Ira Glass said after speaking on stage with “Serial” senior producer Julie Snyder. “I think we’re ready for capitalism which made this country so great. Public radio is ready for capitalism,” Mr. Glass said.
Such an idea on it’s own is a kind of revolution made possible by the success of podcasts. Everyone seems to want in.
A week before the public radio upfront iHeartMedia, a terrestrial radio powerhouse in its own right, announced it is getting into the podcast game with 12 new shows of their own.
This, from Quartz:
The company’s latest proposition to advertisers? Original content, including video, but also, and more interestingly, podcasts.
This week, at an event in New York, the company announced a string of new podcast products, including ones with actors like Jared Leto and Jaime Pressley, and on topics that appeal to millennial audiences, like indie video gaming, pop culture, and relationships.
Podcasting and radio are obviously a natural fit. The intimacy of audio lends itself to high engagement levels that advertisers are just starting to recognize and which iHeartMedia is just beginning to try to capitalize on.
- Panoply, Slate’s new podcast network got underway just a few months ago.
- Gimlet Media, a podcasting startup, successfully raised $1.5 million dollars at the close of 2014.
- Buzzfeed is dipping their toes into podcasts
- And NPR just announced their new NPR One app which, among other things, include a more robust podcast experience.
I could go on but you get the gist (I swear I wasn’t trying for a pun there) of it. The numbers are in. Funded networks and plucky Indie podcasts continue to step forward with compelling content.
Listenership continues to grow, advertisers continue to gain access to an engaged audience. Break-out podcasts like Serial prove that 80 million downloads can be a thing. Radiotopia’s network boasts 7.5 million monthly downloads. Pre-Panoply Slate says they weren’t far behind with 6.5 million downloads per month.
So let’s talk about it. Let’s talk about the works, the people, the processes and technology that populate this space.
More soon come.