Streamers Eyeing Audio Podcasts as Next Market Growth

Netflix has quietly posted a job listing looking for an executive with “audio/podcast programming” experience. The move mirrors other streaming video platforms such as HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video and Apple TV+ seeking to expand their platform beyond video and into audio content.

Podcasts, like audio books, are a series of audio files covering fiction, non-fiction ideas, stories that can be downloaded via the Internet on myriad portable devices. The global podcasting market topped $9.2 billion in value in 2019 and is projected to grow 27.5% annually through 2027 — driven by easy consumer access while multitasking activities such as driving, commuting, walking, gardening, exercising, or cleaning.

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“Podcasts are an excellent way for fans to connect with our stories and talent, and our marketing team plans to make more of them,” Jonathan Bing, a Netflix representative, said in a media statement first reported by the Los Angeles Times.

The average podcast runs from 20 minutes to 45 minutes, with opportunities to sell advertising within story breaks. Even better: Research suggests podcast ads can run as long as 90 seconds, with viewer attention reaching 85%. A 2017 Edison Research report found that the average podcast consumer listens to five podcasts weekly.

That’s enticing to major media brands such as Google, WarnerMedia, ViacomCBS, Facebook, Spotify and Apple.

This fall, Apple TV+ will launch original docu-series “The Line,” about former Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher’s alleged war crimes in the Middle East. The streamer is now offering a six-part podcast series as a primer leading up to the video series debut.

“Large new-content platforms like Facebook and YouTube will [soon] build audio-specific products and begin to distribute podcasts en masse,” Conal Byrne, president of iHeartPodcast Network, said in a statement.

Indeed, HBO Max, like Netflix, has already used podcasts in limited fashion, offering greater depth into select video programming and movies.

Last year, Max parent WarnerMedia inked a deal with iHeartMedia to create podcasts for numerous original TV series such as “Search Party” and “Raised by Wolves,” among others.

“WarnerMedia Entertainment’s networks and brands have long been a marvel in the entertainment industry, and we’re ecstatic for the opportunity to be a part of their legendary storytelling and to bring this trove of new content to the iHeartPodcast Network,” Byrne said at the time.

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