Riding the Audio Wave: How Podcasts are Taking the TV Industry by Storm

Photo by Will Francis on Unsplash

Our researcher Kaiya Simon recently enjoyed a midweek webinar on the rise of Podcasts within the TV industry chaired by broadcaster and podcaster Anita Rani

Hearing from commissioning, production and IP experts from both the UK and US, the session explored the latest trends, how to convert an idea from one medium to the other, how to commercialize content and what the future looks like for the Podcast industry.

The podcast industry is rapidly expanding and, as interest has grown, so has the amount advertisers have devoted to it.

Ad revenue for the UK podcast industry was valued at £40m in 2021 and estimated to rise £60m by 2025 (PWC).

A wide range of first-rate, dynamic and cutting-edge audio content has developed, including sports, comedy, dating, drama, crime and cookery to name a few.

Podcasts are now providing a huge supply of ideas, talent and IP fit for development for the tv industry, and with listeners mostly younger than those watching TV, the medium is also a live litmus test for themes, people and formats which capture these hard-won listeners.

The panel included Declan Moore, who’s the Head of International at Wondery, and Louise Kattenhorn, the Commissioning Editor for Podcasts at the BBC.

Also, in attendance were Darrell Brown, Managing Director at What’s the Story and Alex Bewley, an Agent from WME.

Declan feels that the success of podcasts has happened within the last ten years, with people producing stories with the intent of creating audio experiences.

With consumers living in an on-demand world, podcasts are a timely form of media, with 22-28% of the UK being podcasts listeners.

Podcasts are a form of storytelling that create images in a listener’s mind that makes them feel like they’re a part of the story being told.

As Alex explains, it’s an exciting time to be involved with this newly popular medium. So much IP comes from podcasts that it’s lucrative.

He also expressed how tv doesn’t move as quickly as podcasts. There are a lot of processes that tv executives are familiar with that may not be needed with podcasts. But there is definitely money to be made in podcasting, especially in the US.

Darrell left the tv industry for podcasting as there were lots of boundaries and precautions that could be pushed. Podcasts can be whatever they want to be, and there aren’t the same rules as with tv.

For Louise, the current relationship between tv and podcasts explores ways to work and commission within tv. She explains that this relationship also provides a pathway for talent.

Some podcasts have made it to tv and this is a great way for audiences to continue with the journey of what they’re listening to.

When asked whether she would get involved with a podcast at an early stage if there was potential, Louise said absolutely. She would think about how a tv show would work for audio and vice versa. Audience engagement & conversation deepens with a companion podcast.

When asked what genres of podcast are most successful and where he sees it heading, Declan says true crime. There is always room for a well-researched and written story, especially if there’s a few seasons. There is also a lot of opportunity for experimentation which is creatively exciting.

When Alex is commissioning a new podcast, he looks for certain rules that apply conversational and short form narrative. With a conversational narrative, you have a longer running episode.

With short form, you have access to a story no one else has told, an active breaking story or reopened case, that brings the audience along for the ride.

Darrell expanded on this explaining it depends on what the aim of the podcast is. Is it a small but loyal audience but the podcast doesn’t receive much revenue? Is it telling a great story?

Louise added that it may be developing talent. But it’s hard for a long running podcast to reach those heights. Yet Declan explained that we’re still in the black and white era, so those podcasts still have a chance to reach them as audiences will still discover them.

40% of UK listeners are 26-35 years old, so what are podcasts doing that tv isn’t to get their attention? Darrell explained that the technology of a podcast helps because you don’t miss anything.

It’s also the talent involved and being able to listen on the go. There are still challenges but young audiences want to listen. Podcasts are very different to linear radio, too. So, listeners can choose what they want to listen to, when and when to stop.

It seems like podcasts will keep developing, expanding and experimenting with new and different topics, so keep a listen out in the future!