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Podcast predictions for 2022

It’s no surprise that the podcast distribution platform Audioboom has seen its share price surge over 330% since the start of the year. There are now well over 1 million shows on Apple Podcasts alone, in more than 100 languages, and according to The Infinite Dial 2021, monthly podcast listening in the UK is equal to that in the US for the first time. In fact, over 27 million of us have listened to a podcast in the last month and we’re also seeing a shift in the demographics of podcast listeners, with people aged 55+ consuming more podcasts than ever before (38% are monthly users vs 40% of those aged 16-34). Of the 16.7million Brits that listen weekly, a third listen to four or five and over a third (35%) listen to between 6 and 10, which equates to 70 million podcast episodes consumed each week!

So just what is behind this continued growth and where do the opportunities lie for brands?

Trends – Increase in news podcasts

Covid-19 has affected every aspect of life across the globe and there is no doubt it has contributed to the increase in podcasts. Celebs, media owners, brands and ordinary people suddenly found themselves stuck at home with more time on their hands, and the mass adoption of Zoom meant recording a podcast was easier than ever, cutting travel time to studios and expensive nights in hotels. The same is true for podcast listeners, with 44% of British podcast listeners consuming more podcasts since the pandemic, and it is the type of podcasts being listened to that presents one of the biggest opportunities for brands.

The chance for brands to place spokespeople on relevant podcasts remains much the same as pre-pandemic. Global Media, which own a number of different podcast shows, frequently take celeb guests, such as RunPod with Jenni Falconer or Paul McKenna’s Positivity podcast, where campaign messaging can easily be worked into an in-depth interview. However, the biggest development from the last year has been the significant rise in news podcasts. Our research shows that 25% of podcast listeners tune into more news podcasts since the pandemic, with 41% saying they expect a newspaper to have a podcast too…

Publications like The BBC, The Guardian, The Economist & The FT now have a network of podcasts covering niche topics like science, tech, business and daily news. While the barrier to entry is certainly higher, anyone with access to experts or CEOs in these fields should be paying close attention to the topics covered and the current news agenda. An example from this week is The Economist’s ‘Money Talks’ podcast, which speaks to the CEOs of three of the leading Cryptocurrency exchanges, giving them the opportunity to talk about a sometimes controversial topic on one of the most reputable and credible news outlets.

There are other daily news podcasts that have also seen rapid growth over 2021, with Jamie East’s Smart 7 show achieving number 1 ranking on Spotify for a period of time. While not impossible, Jamie’s 7-minute podcast is a little difficult to place guests (covering seven topics in that time), so keep an eye on the likes of Sky News Daily. They cover broader topics over 30 minutes, so if you are a brand that has access to great case studies, such as Help Me Stop, you can feature on episodes like dispelling the myth of a functioning alcoholic.

So there are clearly opportunities for brands in news-based podcasts, but what other areas have we seen grow over the course of 2021 which are likely to feature highly in 2022:

Podcasts for Internal Comms

You don’t hear much about internal podcasts for obvious reasons, however it is an area of internal comms that continues to grow rapidly, and we’ve received an influx of staff-driven requests from clients. With podcasts being adopted by the masses, why would anyone want to sift through a two-page email when they can simply listen to their latest business update while making their morning coffee? For anyone working in internal comms with large organisations, podcasts should certainly be part of your plans for 2022.

Video and podcasting

Another area we’ve seen a huge growth in is video podcasts or ‘Vodcasts’ as some people like to call them. Through the pandemic, as podcasts were recorded over Zoom, it made sense to record the video and whack it on YouTube too. The brilliant Off Menu podcast with comedians Ed Gamble and James Acaster did this during the lockdown period and ended up adding hundreds of thousands of views to their already massive audience, even streaming a Live episode that attracted 97,000.

Some podcasters have been doing this successfully for a long time, such as Steven Bartlett and his series The Diary of a CEO or the team behind The High Performance Podcast. The video production is extremely high quality and is planned and executed so that it’s given the same importance as the audio output. Any brand looking to create its own podcast series should be doing the same. Not only does it open up doors to a brand-new channel and audience, but gives you a sea of assets that can be used to promote your series across different social media platforms, where the highest levels of engagement and click-through come from video content.

In 2021 Spotify has also just introduced Video Podcasts to their platform and YouTube is also looking to invest in podcasts and add them to their Premium service. Soon, the term ‘Vodcast’ will become a thing of the past as they become the ‘new normal’ of podcasting.

What else to look out for in 2022

We expect continued growth in both podcast content and audiences, which will present even more opportunities for brands. We were a little surprised to see that the Infinite Dial 2021 only asked 1,000 people questions over the phone, and even more surprised that only 7% of the population had listened to Apple Music in the last month, compared to 30% for Spotify. So to give you even more insights into the wants, needs and habits of podcast listeners, we’ll be releasing our annual Podcast Report in January 2022, which we’ll be publishing on our website and socials.


Written by Andy Maxwell, Consultant at 4DC – The Podcast Consultancy

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