July 31, 2018

Podcasts and Streaming Audio Are Now Virtually Inseparable

So why are radio stations still managing them as separate businesses?

“Alexa, play Fresh Air.”

“OK, here’s the latest episode.”

What happens next? Does a live stream from a local or distant broadcast station begin to play? Or from a national network? Or will the listener hear an audio file served ‘on-demand’?

For most readers of this blog, the answer comes as no surprise: the listener is served a podcast file from an RSS feed. Here’s the thing. The average listener won’t know the difference and very likely don’t care. They just want their Fresh Air.

Increasingly, advertisers wanting to reach this particular audience don’t care either. Their focus is targeting the right people and associating their message with appealing, brand-safe content. So why do so many stations still treat their digital streams and podcasts as if they are separate products and manage them with separate software solutions? That’s a problem we aim to solve.

Talk, comedy, politics, and sports shows translate well to must-hear digital audio streams and podcasts. Many stations offer these formats because they are great new opportunities to extend the value of their content. They also can reach current listeners in new contexts—far from their radio, car, or your broadcast tower—and cultivate new audience members.

Streaming audiences in particular are highly attractive to advertisers. Spotify’s Brand Impact Study found that streaming music users are 2x more likely to pay more for brands and 61% more likely to recommend a brand to friends.

Meanwhile, podcast audiences are being hailed as an advertising “Holy Grail”: highly engaged listeners that actually stick around for the ads. One recent survey found that 80% of podcast listeners say they listen to all or most of every episode. These aren’t just niche audiences: according to Nielsen, 50% of all US homes are podcast fans.

Now add in the impact of smart speakers. Only a few short years since their introduction, 43 million Americans already have one. If you’re one of these folks, you’ve probably come to realize that smart speakers have a leveling effect on live-streamed audio and podcasts. When a talk show fan asks an Echo to play a show, Alexa is just as likely to serve up on-demand file as a live audio stream. Unlike on mobile devices where users may still hunt among multiple apps to find content, smart speaker audiences focus on content rather than format.

When the audience’s perception of the delivery formats is obliterated, it’s no longer necessary to distinguish live streams from on-demand files.

So why do so many audio content providers insist on thinking of ‘digital streams’ and ‘podcasts’ as separate businesses? Fundamentally these audiences, their access points, and their desired content are all starting to merge. And they should – they are better together.

Managing and selling ads for streams and podcast separately is a cumbersome process – and as these formats become virtually indistinguishable, frankly it’s a little ridiculous. That’s why WideOrbit is moving fast to bring its digital audio management solutions – WO Streaming and WO On Demand – into a single suite.

Using WO Streaming and WO On Demand together unifies management of a station’s core digital products. Instead of concentrating on the back end — and confusing your sales team and advertisers — you’ll be able to focus on expanding listenership and delivering well-targeted ads.

Click here for more information on WideOrbit’s suite of solutions for managing digital audio streams and on-demand content.