Decoding the Podcast Industry in India and its unexplored potential
Authored By Akhila Shankar, Director – International, Luminary (World’s largest pure subscription podcast network)
India is a special market. It is also a country having its moment of serendipity. A young nation with 450+ million smartphone users, some of the lowest data costs anywhere in the world makes India an important growth market for most businesses, but more particularly for storytelling. It is not surprising that we have 46 video over-the-top media services (OTT’s) and15+ audio OTTs currently active at the time of this column.
In 2020, India became the third largest podcast listening market in the world. Yet only 12% of Indians have ever heard a podcast according to a RedSeer report released last year. And this is what makes India important for the future of podcasting – India is one of the top markets of podcast listeners and also the largest untapped market for future podcast listeners. We are at an important inflection point that will transform potential to kinetic energy for the medium. For this to actualise, there are a few things we need to understand about the state of the industry and the role of networks, creators, and fans.
The value of the industry
The Indian audio business as of 2019, which includes podcasts, music and radio was valued at $280 Million. China, which is the second largest podcast market up ahead of India, was valued at $193 Million in the same year. For the Indian podcast industry to be able to fund its next phase of growth, the industry itself needs to increase in value. India already has 57M podcast monthly active users (MAUs) and low hanging fruit is to transform current listeners into patrons of the medium, investing into shows and creators. To make it compelling for fans, platforms and creators need to shift focus from consistency, which no doubt plays an important role to quality. Differentiated content that can’t be found anywhere else, deeper research, elevating audio to a cinematic experience are compelling reasons for podcast fans to invest. This is also where the entry of pure subscription services like Luminary becomes an important part of the ecosystem. Subscription makes it viable for podcasters to invest the time, energy and capital needed to create what is essentially the equivalent of what HBO did for prestige TV - prestige podcasts, something worth spending on for consumers (with both their money and time).
Podcasts need an awareness campaign
India’s untapped audiences – 78% of the population that has never heard a podcast – can future proof the podcast business at large. These soon to be first time listeners will eventually funnel into future subscribers. But to accomplish that, podcasting itself needs an awareness campaign. Sure, any network could run a campaign playing up the value podcasts can bring to a listener’s life. But here is a new medium, here is what you can get, and here is where you can get it - that’s just an ad. Here is an artist you love with something important to say, and here is where you can hear it - now that is reason to believe. A creator-first approach, working with some of the most thoughtful voices in the country that speak to the growing aspirations of nuanced listeners, is what will unlock the potential of a billion earphones.
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