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“Pocket FM is aggressively building a universe of entertainment & knowledge content”

Founded in 2018 by Rohan Nayak, Nishanth KS and Prateek Dixit with an audio-first approach, Pocket FM has has evolved into a leading audio streaming service with a layer of content personalisation. Today, the company witnesses over 15 million monthly active listeners (MAL) on the app, spending an average of over 100 minutes daily, while the total monthly audio streaming on the app counts to over 3 billion minutes. Till date, it has raised $93.6 million in five rounds and is backed by some marquee investors like Lightspeed, Times Internet, Tanglin Venture Partners, Goodwater Capital, and Naver.

In conversation with Adgully, Ashu Behl, SVP -Content, Pocket FM, speaks about the audience engagement on the platform, the growth of the audio OTT space, content personalisation and much more.

Till sometime back, audio OTT was only about music. You are now creating a new category in the audio OTT. How has been the journey so far and how is it doing in terms of audience engagement?

Pocket FM has been front-ending the category formation for the audio OTT landscape and leading the audio entertainment space with its strong consumer centricity and product innovations. We have been growing steadily since launch; however, we have witnessed a hockey-stick growth trajectory in the past few quarters. Not only have we built a large listener community, but we have also exponentially grown our revenue and premium listeners base. Since 2018, we have experimented with multiple content formats and genres to find suitable offerings for our listeners.

Today, Pocket FM witnesses over 15 million monthly active listeners (MAL) on the app, spending an average of over 100 minutes every day, while the total monthly audio streaming on the app counts to over 3 billion minutes.

You are already leading the audio entertainment space in India. How did you manage to achieve this fate? What makes you so unique amid similar players in this space?

We have breathed new life into the audio space with our unique storytelling style, reviving it as a mainstream entertainment format and unearthing unique and unheard stories worldwide for our listeners. One of the key factors driving this is our community-led content creation, which helps us diversify our content offerings and bring unique stories from different parts of the country.

We have expanded our content diversity with over 100,000 hours of audio content and are consistently adding new series and content to keep our listeners tuned in. Today, we are bullish on building the most extensive library of audio streaming content across formats, including audio series, audiobooks, podcasts and others. We aggressively focus on building a universe of entertainment (including romance, horror, thriller, emotional drama, etc.) and knowledge content.

Pocket FM is the most downloaded app on the Play Store in the audio and music category. How do you feel about it?

While this is a great honour to share with our community, however, we feel that our growth reflects the active participation of our listener and creator community. We celebrate every moment with our community and the camaraderie we established with them through our incredible storytelling experience only elevates our stature in the audio OTT landscape.

Pocket Studio provides a platform for a wide community of 200K+ creators, Professional-Generated Content creators, Writers and voice artists who contribute to Pocket FM. How are you identifying and nurturing your creators? How are you ensuring creator stickiness to Pocket FM?

We continuously strengthen our creator community of professional user-generated content (PUGC) writers, voice artists and other creative minds. Pocket FM has been making immense contributions to the creator economy, from identifying potential creative minds to nurturing them for the next level with Pocket Creator Studio. It also keeps the creators motivated financially by compensating them for the creative pieces – a secret sauce we have created that ensures revenue generation for both creators and us.

Do you believe that consumer behaviour is gradually shifting towards audio-driven platforms? Can you please elaborate?

The habit of audio content consumption has been inherited among us since childhood, consciously or unconsciously. Listening to stories has always been there in consumer behaviour, yet the potential of the audio opportunity was not fully explored in the digital era. Additionally, audio streaming allows listeners to multitask. We, at Pocket FM, believe that audio storytelling can get more extensive than any other format in the next 3-4 years. We are focusing towards building the largest repository of audio streaming content across formats through our unique storytelling pattern.

You have been developing the habit of binge-listening in the audio space. Please elaborate on how you are doing this.

Binge-listening as a consumption habit is nothing new. From the age of gramophone to cassettes to the era of OTTs, we have been binge-listening or binge-watching. The excitement of discovering newness leads to this habit. Considering that we are in the entertainment audio space, the pattern is almost similar to video entertainment OTT.

On Pocket FM, our listener community gets hooked to our content and imbibed into our storytelling, which adds strong stickiness to the platform.

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