It’s podcast time!

Podcasts will take audio steaming industry to next level in India  

‘I’d sit alone and watch your light/ My only friend through teenage nights/ And everything I had to know/ I heard it on my radio...,’ wrote British singer and songwriter Freddie Mercury reminding the influence radio had once upon a time. However in the age of the internet, it is the podcasts which are synonymous with audio content now.

Podcasts can be streamed or downloaded on a browser or an application. They are popular across all age groups because of their informative and conversational format across genres like comedy, sports, mental health, crime and history.

Join the audio boom
  • A report by afaqs, an Indian advertising, media & marketing portal says 77% of people listen to podcasts on the go in India.
  • As per India Media and Entertainment Report 2018 by KPMG — subscription revenue growth in India increased from ₹428 crore in FY18 to ₹491 crore in FY19; expenditure on digital ads is expected to cross ₹400 billion in FY23; 500 million Indian language users will drive the market
  • Spotify’s launch expected to catalyse growth for podcasts in India.
  • Find your favorite podcast on Google Podcasts, PocketCasts, Castbox or Sticher.

Most listeners tune-in to podcasts while commuting or doing chores. “I like to podcasts whie cooking or playing a video game. It’s a great way to learn while doing task which don’t require full attention,” says Arjun J Rao, research officer at Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Visakhapatnam. Lately he has been listening to Hardcore History by Dan Carlin, a podcast on world history. It uses the “theatre of the mind” style, a popular radio format where vivid imagery is conjured through sounds. It won best history podcast of 2018 from the IHeartRadio Podcast Awards.

“Podcasts are to radio what Netflix is to television. Radio and television are appointment listening/viewing, while podcasts are on-demand. You can listen to them when you want,” says Amit Varma, the host of a popular weekly podcast The Seen and The Unseen which discusses social issues and examines them from the lens of public policy and private action. The two time Bastiat Prize winner’s podcast is downloaded one lakh times each month! According to Amit, podcasts connect thinkers and content creators. Its audience typically grows organically. This is one of the main reasons why people are invested to make podcasts on topics they are passionate about.

A gripping podcast series I could not stop listening to was Sarah Koenig’s podcast Serial, a podcast which tells a true story over the course of a season. Its first season, investigates the murder of Hae Min Lee in 1999. Hae’s 17-year-old ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed, was sentenced to life. The podcast explored ‘the shifting statements to police, the prejudices, the sketchy alibis, the scant forensic evidence’ and demanded to know how a minor was awarded a life sentence. Thanks to Serial, the trial was not allowed to be forgotten. Serial won several awards including the duPont-Columbia, Scripps Howard, Edward R. Murrow, and the first-ever Peabody awarded to a podcast.

So why is radio struggling to keep up with changing times? Amit explains, “Radio stations have to pay exorbitant license fees, they have no option but to cater to a larger audience, with Bollywood music and so on. There’s no scope for edgy content.” Despite it’s challenges, radio has the ability to reach over 98% of the population in India. In an attempt to revive radio worldwide, UNESCO celebrates World Radio Day on February 13. Hopefully, podcast’s growth in India will be catalytic in revival of radio.

Podcasts made in India
  • Cyrus Says by Cyrus Broacha
  • Paisa Vaisa by Anupam Gupta
  • Trial By Error: The Aarushi Files by Nishita Jha
  • Stories by Premchand by Sameer Goswami
  • The Musafir Stories by Saif Omar and Faiza Khan
  • How to citizen by Meghnad S and Shreyas Manohar
  • Every Vote Matters by Suno India
  • Inside Line F1 Podcast by Kunal Shah and Mithila M

Future in India

India’s first narrative podcast on adoption called Dear Pari was started by Padma Priya and Rakesh Kamal of Suno India, a podcast platform to inform citizens on social issues. On Dear Pari they share their journey of adopting their daughter, and hold discussions with parents, adopted children, government officials and anti-trafficking experts.

“There isn’t much money for podcasters but there is a tremendous job satisfaction,” says Rakesh. He feels the podcast market in India is going to be much larger than the West not just because of the population but also due to India’s diversity. “In the last two years several podcasts in regional languages have been launched,” he said. Recently, Suno India added Eshwari Stories, a Telugu short stories podcast for children. Mumbai-based IVM Podcasts, airs Thalé-Haraté by Pavan Srinath, Surya Prakash BS and Ganesh Chakravarthi, a Kannada podcast which ‘covers everything from technology, economics and geopolitics to Karnataka and Bangalore’s governance and public affairs.’

In the US, podcast marketing is already the most effective form of online advertising. Rakesh predicts, “In few years even Indian podcasters will be able to monetise through ads on their shows.” After all it’s logical to promote baby care products on a podcast where the target group is parents.

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Printable version | Apr 18, 2021 12:14:58 AM |

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