Podcasting has been growing steadily since its inception. Although according to Media Analyst Bridge Ratings, 48% of people aged 12 and over have no interest in listening to podcasts. That is down from 64% in 2015.
Even though the number of people who listen to podcasts has grown year-over-year, and the number of people who don’t want to be bothered has decreased, there is still room for podcast growth.
Benefits of Podcast Listening
- Portable and on-demand – Podcasts are ideal entertainment while doing other tasks. Whether you are tackling chores or a commute, podcasting is the go anywhere, on-demand media that can supply you with hours of listening enjoyment.
- Learn, be entertained, and expand boundaries – Podcasts are wonderful for entertainment, but in this era of hypersensitive productivity and time frugality, podcasts will allow you to learn something new while accomplishing a more mundane and repetitive task. Maybe multitasking exists after all.
- Something for everyone – Podcasts have taken niches to the extreme. You can find a podcast about almost any topic imaginable. Whether your interests are MMA, geocaching, history, business, marketing, TV, or anything else there is a podcast that focuses on that topic.
- Low cost or free – Most podcasts are free. Most modern podcasts get their ad revenue from download impressions, so it benefits podcasters to make their shows easily available.
Current Barriers of Podcast Listening
- Difficult to find and download – This is probably the biggest stumbling block to podcast growth. There is still close to a 50% group of potential listeners who don’t know how to find, download and listen to podcasts.
- Shows that are too long or boring – Almost a quarter of those surveyed said they stop listening to shows that are too long, rambling or just plain boring. The barriers to entry as a podcaster are low but show quality matters to listeners.
- Technical issues – Along with finding the shows and figuring out how to listen to them, technical issues can make listening to podcasts too much effort. The technology needs to be fast and easy.
Streaming Media Is the Answer for Easy Podcast Listening
Podcast streaming is already available on many devices, but it still takes a bit of technological know-how and access to a smart device to use it. New devices with easy built in functionality will remove the cumbersome burden of searching and downloading podcasts.
According to Dave Van Dyke of Bridge Ratings, 2017 will be a breakout year for podcasting, a platform that offers content for just about any taste or interest. This may be the year that the confluence of technology, advertising, and consumer interest meet.
Alexa, Play My Favorite Podcast
What was the world’s largest online store’s best seller over Christmas 2016? It was the Amazon Echo. Not only do millions of new homes have an Amazon Echo in them, Alexa the voice technology inside the Echo was featured in a number of new products in the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show CES.
Alexa can not only control lights and thermostats through integrations with the devices, but many devices have full featured Alexa voice built into them. Smart speakers that aren’t Echo devices will have full Alexa functionality, as well as other smart appliances like the LG Smart InstaView Refrigerator.
You can even find Alexa inside this cute Lynx robot by Ubtech Robotics. Ford is even adding Alexa to it’s SYNC 3 infotainment system. So your conversation with Alexa doesn’t have to end when you leave the house.
How to Use Alexa to Play Podcasts
There are three ways to play podcasts using Alexa. Voice commands using the TuneIn service, streaming podcasts you have downloaded into Amazon cloud, or by using Bluetooth to connect to a phone or other device.
Alexa is an amazing alarm clock, and many Echos are in people’s bedrooms. If you can’t sleep and you want to hear a podcast, you can tell Alexa to play a podcast from TuneIn. This is the easiest hands-free way to stream podcasts with no prior planning.
The downside is that TuneIn may not feature lesser known podcasts and Alexa may not understand what podcast you are asking for if it is a less common one. If Alexa is giving you a hard time about playing your podcast of choice, you can always go into the Alexa app>Music & Books>TuneIn and select your podcast of choice.
If you have to use your phone anyway, you could just pair your phone with Bluetooth and pick a podcast from the podcast player on your phone. The TuneIn app is for hands free podcast listening. To have more control pair your phone and use the Echo as a speaker.
You can also download podcasts from your computer into Amazon’s cloud service and then access and play them with Alexa. This method adds a layer of complexity and defeats the convenience of a streaming service.
Otto Radio Streaming App for News & Podcasts
Otto Radio is a website and a streaming app for Android and iOS. Otto radio curates news and podcasts according to your tastes and enables you to listen with the touch of a button. The Otto radio algorithm is kind of like a music genome project for podcasts combined with an easy streaming app.
This seems to solve two of the barriers to podcast listening. Making it easy to find and listen to podcast shows. They use machine learning and expert editorial insight in curating the podcast options. This may also tackle the third barrier which is too long, boring, or poor quality podcasts. Otto Radio was another star at CES 2017 and is another tool to make listening to podcasts easier and more mainstream.
2017 The Year of The Podcast
Podcast producing and listening has had steady growth. As technology makes finding and listening to podcasts easier, this trend should continue. New devices offering easy podcast streaming should help push the trend forward.
New devices and technology should also make keeping track of streaming shows and stats easier and more accurate leading to more advertising opportunities for podcasters. The one caveat is that more listeners and more advertising opportunities may also lead to higher quality standards.
Just like now niche topics will always have a market, but when it comes to extremely large mainstream shows, listeners may be more fickle and demand higher quality. Creating interesting content with great audio quality will always be in demand. The good news is that the future of podcasting is looking so bright we gotta wear shades.