Welcome back to the office! As I sat down this morning, I thought “What’s gonna happen this year?”
Here are my 2016 Podcast Predictions:
Growth: The industry will continue to grow. More listeners will find podcasts and more advertisers will take a chance on podcasts. But it will be slow growth. Still one of my favorite lines in all the 2015 coverage about podcasts applies here: So don’t call podcasting a bubble or a bust. Instead, it is that rarest thing in the technology industry: a slow, steady and unrelentingly persistent digital tortoise that could eventually — but who really knows? — slay the analog behemoths in its path. – Farhad Manjoo NY Times
Measurement Parity and Transparency will not be solved. Many in the podcast business say we need better metrics and we need the “comscore for podcasts.” The I.A.B. has a group looking at it, but I don’t have faith it will happen this year. Podcasters should be coming up with industry standards for downloads but because so many of the big players are seeing greater revenue, I don’t think the incentive is there for the market movers to act.
More Big Brands Will Get Involved I think more and more recognizable brands will get into podcasting in 2016. As mature digital departments look for growth and a complete digital portfolio of products, I think that podcasting is ready to get a seat at the table for those that have ignored it so far.
Established Networks Will Get Bigger When big brands and content producers decide to get into podcasting they are going to look around their digital newsrooms and realize they have a whole lot of writers and video producers, but no audio expertise. Some will hire and do it in-house, but others will turn to the industry experts and farm out a lot of the production, sales, hosting, metrics, etc.
Independent Podcasters will Struggle For new brands and producers getting into podcasting unless they partner with an existing network to get promotion and scale quickly, it will be a seriously uphill battle. It’s fair to say this isn’t a new problem, but I think as the podcast networks get bigger it gets even harder for any independents.
The current podcast “boom” will wane Just like a few times before, the flurry of attention and media coverage given to podcasting will subside. Serial Season 2 doesn’t seem to be generating the same buzz as before, and for the media to write more about podcasting something new has to happen to keep it “hot.” I don’t see what that “new” thing is to drive the narrative forward. On this point, I like Rob Greenlee’s take that 2015 wasn’t a podcast boom, it was a podcast coverage boom. I just hope we don’t get another round of “whatever happened to podcasting?” stories.
Google’s Impact: We already know Google Play is getting into podcasting this year, but what effect will that have on the podcasting business? I think this depends on how much promotion Google gives it. If they make a big deal about podcasts being in a native environment on Android, this could be huge. But if it just shows up and people have to stumble on it by themselves, it will only be a blip. Either way, a native podcast experience on Android is going to give some kind of boost to podcasts. The only question is how big. My prediction? Um… I’m not sure on this one.
Music streamers turn to podcasts: Some music streamers are getting into spoken word content – podcasts – in their own way. It makes sense if you serve up content for people to listen to… you should serve all kinds of things, not just music. For me personally, music and podcasts are such different experiences for different times of the day and different moods I just don’t see them blending so seamlessly. On the other hand I guess all types of content exists together on my car radio, so maybe it can coexist in an app too. My prediction here is that while this exposes podcasts to a much broader audience, the metrics from these traditionally music only services are going to further muddy the waters for a podcast industry standard.
As always, let me know what you think and thanks for reading.