Before the dawn of the online revolution, people turn to the paper and the radio as sources of news and information. Now, digital audio is the latest mode of gathering and disseminating information and it is slowly becoming the preferred medium of all kinds of listeners.
According to an analysis data by comScore, 39 out of 50 news sites get more traffic from mobile devices than from desktop systems. This says a lot about the shifting behavior of the public when it comes to gathering news. This shift of interest highlights podcasts, which was introduced by the massive success of Serial, a podcast from WBEZ that explores the sentencing of Adnan Syed in the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee. When Serial broke the internet, the number of podcast-listening Americans ballooned to 46 million each month. Because of the gripping storytelling, Serial won a Peabody award this year, and was lauded by the award’s director, Dr. Jeffrey P. Jones.
“New avenues and approaches to storytelling can have a major impact on how we understand truth, reality, and events,” said Dr. Jones during the ceremony.
Additionally, technology plays a huge part in the success of podcasts with the listeners. The rapid growth of smartphone users and an increase in in-car listening highly contributed to the popularity of podcasts as a preferred medium, according to a report published by Journalism.org. Social media plays an important role in the rise of podcast as well, especially with the influence that listeners bestow on their peers. News articles with audio clips get thoroughly shared on social media websites and while some people opt to read about it, others would choose to listen to it while doing other tasks.
According to Edison Research, podcast listeners spend six hours and eight minutes each day consuming audio. This amounts to over 21 million hours of podcast listening everyday. Larry Rosin, executive vice president at Edison Research, says that quality speech-based content that won’t usually make its way in traditional radio is the appeal that podcasts have on listeners.
“There has always been a lot of appeal for quality speech-based audio content. The problem is that it didn’t always fit in with the modality of radio. Radio isn’t really appointment listening. Podcasting unleashes that problem. The on-demand capability of podcasting is the key component of its growth,” said Rosin to Radio World.
Being on-demand is podcast’s strongest suit, but it possesses more characteristics that make it the preferred medium for information. Audio is interactive and it can be controlled with voice prompts such as “next,” or “share.” Streaming allows listeners to access the audio anytime and anywhere without having to worry about freeing space or waiting for a download to finish. Also, audio content is always social: the podcast app of choice can suggest which episodes or shows are most popular and listeners can always share their favorite moments from podcasts in social media sites or privately to people.
Personalization is another strong characteristic of audio content. A podcast app or website such as Audioboom (LSE: BOOM) knows what listeners have been tuning in to. Aside from recommending similar podcasts or stories to listeners, these apps and websites randomly suggest pieces that could fit a listener’s preference. Having an account in a podcast-centric app or website allows users to follow influential people, certain topics, news and media outlets to stay updated and well-informed. These qualities truly make podcasts the future of information, and it won’t be long until more people across the globe start tuning in online instead of turning on the TV.
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