Why I’m not the only one becoming a Serial podcaster
The success of Serial has changed the game for podcasting.
Podcasts have been around since 2005. I was only 15 back then and I think more people listened to me than podcasts. Fast-forward 10 years and research tells us that almost twice as many people are listening to podcasts and their popularity has been on a gradual upward curve since 2008.
Leaving statistics aside, it was late last year that podcasts really shook off their reputation of being a bit pointless. Serial, which was averaging 2.2m listeners by 5th December 2014, has changed the game. And now a few million Serial listeners are scrambling around for more podcasts to ease their withdrawal symptoms.
Don’t get me wrong. The success of Serial was not down to the fact everyone suddenly decided podcasts were awesome. Serial was a lesson in good story telling – a step-by-step dissection of the case of Adnan Syed, who is serving a life sentence having been convicted of murdering his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee, at the age of 17. Two powerful, real Emotional Hero characters plus the opportunity to unleash our inner detective apparently equals 2.2 million hooked listeners a week.
Is Serial the podcasting exception?
Maybe no podcast will hit the heights of Serial again. But what Serial did make me think is ‘how convenient are podcasts?’ It made me look forward to my commute knowing that I could immerse myself in another world.
The way we consume media is changing in a way that benefits podcasting. 2015 is the age of content on-demand. We’re used to creating our own media consumption schedules thanks to the fact we have the flexibility to watch whatever, whenever, wherever we want.
The explosion of smartphones and tablets on its own didn’t have the profound effect on podcasts it might have done. Perhaps Serial is the trigger for audible story-telling in this format to really take off.
Is there a future for PR podcasting?
I’m not saying that if you’re a brand you need to drop everything and hire a podcast team now. However, if 17% of people are listening to podcasts at least once a month, in the age of omni-channel content, it would be short sighted to just discard the idea.
Furthermore, podcasting has already crept into journalism and publishing. Media outlets know their readers are time-poor and need multiple ways of consuming content in different forms. As the BBC, The Economist and The Guardian are already demonstrating, bite size audible round ups, interviews and Q&As seem a logical way to go.
The traditional lines between media, publishing and PR are extremely blurry and brands are wanting to become publishers in their own right. Therefore, for budding brand story tellers, podcasting is potentially a trend well worth listening to.
Photo credit: Lemotox