Since 2014 when the so-called 'podcast boom' was in its height, not much data has been generated on listenership, until now. And it is very good news for audio lovers and producers everywhere. Turns out, people are not just listening to seem cool or get 'in-the-know' with the latest hype. They actually are return listeners that aren't even skipping the ads.
This is great news for us at Antenna, as we can be even more confident that our turn towards human centered storytelling and intimate first person narration is on the right track (podcast-style!). The statement that audio is back, and people are back on to just listening rather than watching is now backed up by fact provided by Apple. What is most exciting about this data to me, is that advertisements have low skip rates - people aren't turned off by or frustrated by the ads. Perhaps they are just really great promotions and really grab the audience so they don't mind listening through, or perhaps they are so into the story of the podcast that is does not even occur to skip or stop listening on account of ad breaks. Either way, listeners are not bothered by the commercialization of podcasts, which means they accept the value the podcast has and therefore their need to incorporate advertisements.
What is also very exciting about this data, is that the length of the show hasn't necessarily determined its success in listenership. Longer 45 minute episodes are listened all the way through, and shorter 15 minute episodes are listened through and by repeat listeners. This further contributes to the point that the story is what matters; a great story, be it a quick anecdote or a lengthy feature, will be listened to. (I wish I could see data on how many nuts like me listen to a 6 hour 'Hardcore History' in one sitting though... I refuse to believe I'm the only one!)
Shameless plug here, but this data is great for us. It can lead our creative efforts in understanding how people are listening to audio only, and also encourage the museum world to in turn value beautifully crafted audio stories. When there is so much digital media, and at times too much to the point of sensory overload, this data shows us that people like to just listen. A great story is all you need to engage, and every museum has tons of them to tell.
Cox describes it as a “lean in” medium: “People are really listening and want to consume all of the content that is there and available. There’s a level of dedication that comes from podcast listeners that you otherwise don’t find.” And now the numbers prove it. Podcasts aren’t a bubble, they’re a boom—and that boom is only getting louder.