May 18, 2023 11:20 AM

Is Podcasting Facing An Identity Crisis?

Podcasting has quickly risen to become one of the most popular forms of consuming media.

Listen rates, downloads and the number of people subscribing to podcasts are increasing year upon year with no sign of slowing down.

As of 2023, there are over 4 million podcasts out there on the market (S: ThePodcastHost) and an estimated 460 million frequent global listeners (S: DemandSage).

Traditionally, the one unique selling point of podcasting was the fact that it was audio-only; an offspring of radio, and a by-product of the smartphone. It was something which could be easily downloaded and listened to on the go, and you only had to dedicate one sense to consume it.

The medium has a long and fascinating history (check out our previous blog – ‘ The History of Podcasting ‘ for more detail) and as the media industry has grown, podcasting has had to mature, diversify and evolve alongside it.

With the global popularity of YouTube, TikTok and live-streaming, podcasts have increasingly begun to incorporate certain elements from each of these that make their respective platforms so popular.

Have a think about the world’s most popular podcasts – The Joe Rogan Experience, Diary of a CEO, The Always Sunny Podcast – all of them include elements of the aforementioned platforms. Whether it be video footage, shortform ‘reel’ social content, live recordings.

All of these elements, when you think about them, go against the traditional definition of a podcast. Inherently prompting some questions:

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What is the definition of a podcast in 2023?

Is a podcast still a podcast if it transcends just audio?

Is the fact that these questions are even being asked indicating that podcasting is having an identity crisis?

Let’s dive in…

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WHY IS THIS HAPPENING?

Let’s be honest.

Us modern audiences are spoilt for choice.

Through the power of the internet and smartphones we have access to a lifetime’s worth of content at the touch of a button.

However, it is no longer enough for us to have control over WHAT we watch. We now want more control over HOW we consume this media.

Some people prefer listening, some need video to fully engage, some can only digest content in small reel-sized snippets. The whole point of media diversification is accessibility. It’s key to engage audiences. No two people are the same, and podcasting, as the frontrunner in the media industry, has this concept understood.

IS THIS A GOOD THING?

It’s no secret that change needs to happen.

Things need to evolve. It’s necessary for progression and the podcasting industry is no exception to that. It’s encouraging then that as the medium has grown and matured, so has its content and format.

One of the most celebrated things about podcasting is its accessibility. The barriers to entry are small and whilst there’s leaps and bounds to ensure quality (trust us on that), on the surface ANYONE can make a podcast.

Over the years, more and more people have flocked to the podcast industry, intent to make their own mark on it, leading to a natural diversification of content. Granted, podcasts traditionally focus around interviews, but many have branched out in format to encapsulate storytelling, journalism & documentary, thought leadership, or simply just a showcase of love and passion around a chosen subject.

The form of a podcast can morph to the needs of the host, and the impact they want to have on the listener. In fact, it’s one of the most attractive features that podcasting has. The fact you can make content about literally anything in any sort of format you can think of is part of the appeal.

That’s definitely one of the main reasons why podcasting is such a special industry

WHERE DOES PODCASTING GO FROM HERE?

Some argue that the medium needs to reclaim its original identity as a purely audio-based medium.

Others suggest that podcasters should continue to embrace the new possibilities offered by video as well as other elements in order to explore new ways of storytelling and engaging listeners.

Whatver you think, one thing is clear: podcasting is at a crossroads, and the decisions made by the industry leaders will shape the future of the medium.

Ultimately, the success of podcasting will depend on how well it adapts to the changing landscape of technology & media as well as how effectively it can maintain its unique identity to appeal to its listeners.

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A fallout to all of this change and exciting new content diversification is that it has raised the barriers of entry to podcasting. It’s easier to spot the amateurs these days and only the best of the best can harmoniously combine these new elements and mediums together.

Video podcasts, or “vodcasts” as they’re known in the industry, prove to be very popular with our clients here at The Podcast Guys.

We love bringing out the best of both mediums to better give our clients and their content a louder voice.

Posted in: Articles

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