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Why Podcasts Are The New Mainstream Amongst Indians

 

Podcasting is a multi-platform experience and often podcasters have their own website and social-media presence. The Podcasters regularly upload content on various platforms. Podcasters main aim is to make their content available on diverse platforms to gather audience. Today all of the music streaming services are partnering with podcast services in making their content accessible on their platform.

 

Apple released iTunes 4.9 in June 2005, adding formal support for podcasts and eliminating the need to use a separate program for downloading and transfeing them to a mobile device. Podcasts from public radio networks like BBC, CBC Radio One, Financial Times and Public Radio went live on iTunes shortly after the launch.

 

While radio podcasts are age old reality, being in existence since 1930 audio podcasts started gaining popularity from 2007. Adam Curry’s ‘Daily Source Code’ is considered the first audio podcast which chronicled the daily life and events in the podcasting scene or spoke about news in general. Curry’s regularity in creating the podcast led to its exceptional viewership of over 500k subscribers.

 

India Scene

India’s longest running podcast is Indicast whic. Started by Aditya Mhatre and Abhishek Kumar, in October 2005 Indicast is India’s longest running podcast. It was launched immediately after a month of Apple’s releasing an update to support iTunes for hosting Podcasts. The format was based on two podcasters speaking about news and current affairs in a non-newsy fashion. It worked as we could relate to it as it didn’t sound like a debate which is often loud and cacophonous.

 

Advantages

Podcasts are mainly about giving a voice to a story and keeping the interest of viewers kindled. Initially, podcasting followed the radio show format which usually has a team of two to three people. With time newer formats emerged.

 

The main advantage of podcast is that the listeners can be kept occupied in a way traditional media cannot. Here the audience feels that they are being directly spoken to. Podcasts have also evolved as a mean to promote a brand’s personality. Recently in a research conducted by Triton Digital & Edison in the US it was found that people listen to an average of five podcasts every week.

 

Interestingly, in order to pass his message to the common people of India and discuss major governments schemes and projects Prime Minister, Narendra Modi opted for radio over other mediums. ‘Mann Ki Baat‘ podcast is now the prime minister’s go-to-medium for reaching out to people in tier II and tier III cities.

 

The podcast industry in India

Podcast as an industry started back in 2015 with Maed India (India’s first indie music podcast by Mae Thomas) and Audioboom (a leading spoken‐word audio platform for hosting, distributing and monetising content) and has fast evolved with entrants of new age players like Hubhopper, Google Podcasts, Castbox, Spotify, etc. and millennial content creators.

 

These new age players are thriving in India due to increasing digital penetration, the cost-effectiveness of smart mobile devices, vernacular content diversity and an overwhelming commute time.

 

Since 2015, podcasting in India has grown dramatically to a level where new-age players like Hubhopper, Google Podcasts, Castbox, Spotify, etc. are taking control over content in the industry. With 560 million internet users in India, it has become an open and majorly an untapped market for podcasting players. Podcasts are provoking audiences to shrug old habits and experiment with platforms that provide well packaged exclusive content (varied, local and curated content at a faster rate).

 

Vernacular and local content

The Indian audience is showing keen interest in vernacular and local content. Even online streaming players like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hotstar have thrived on this demand for original content. Seeing the same demand in audio streaming industry, Hubhopper – India’s largest podcasting and publishing platform – has launched Hubhopper Original programme where it co-creates local content with storytellers from across India. The app states that most of its content is consumed in languages like Bengali, Tamil, Kannada, Marathi and Hindi besides English. Other players like Spotify and Castbox have also experimented with Originals.

 

An alternative career choice

Indian culture has always been familiar with storytelling and hence, people are experimenting with Podcast creation as an alternative career choice. Jay Alani, a paranormal investigator from Patna, topped the charts of Hubhopper Original Programme with his own series called Paranormal Reality, in less than a month of curating it. Similarly, Sonata Parashar, a storyteller from Assam, got a warm response from the listeners by sharing inspiring short stories from her life.

 

Indian listeners are consuming customized podcasts in native languages across categories such as lifestyle, politics, development, social issues, and sports. Even readers with a paucity of time have shifted to podcasts.  As per Google, India is also among the top five countries using its podcasts app since 2018.  Podcasts have become a hit amongst millennials as they resonate with their on-demand mentality and content\ knowledge consumption patterns : on the go, easy to use, based on real content, and do not require stationary position. The concept has also become popular as blogging amongst people across Indian metros and non-metro cities.

 

As per National Public Radio, 335,828 number of NPR podcasts were downloaded in India in 2018. The trend has also been observed among marketers and celebrities as they are reaching out to their respective audiences via podcasts.

Author: Baishali Mukherjee

Profile- An independent writer and journalist for last nine years; presently working with Education World, Entrepreneur India, Scrabbl.com and Stoodnt.com. Worked as the content head for four books and have articles and features published in leading print and digital media spaces.

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