Spotify launches Original Podcasts in a move to increase user engagement

Varun Aggarwal Mumbai | Updated on November 19, 2019

India however is a fast growing podcast market and already ranks third

Video may not have killed the radio star but podcasts are set to redefine radio in India where storytelling is an ancient art.

World’s largest audio streaming company Spotify on Tuesday launched its first set of original podcasts  as it seeks to get higher engagement from Indian listeners.

“Our research shows that podcast listeners spend twice as much time on the platform as compared with people who come to listen to just music. We started our podcast journey about two years ago and since then we have over 500,000 podcasts on Spotify and 140,000 podcast creators. We believe everyone has a story to tell and our platform gives people that opportunity to narrate their stories,” Amarjit Singh Batra, Managing Director - India, Spotify, told BusinessLine.

To begin with, Spotify will have three original podcasts. Tapping into pop culture, cricket centric ‘22 Yarns with Gaurav Kapur’, fiction thriller ‘Bhaskar Bose’ narrated by Mantra, and love and relationship advice-based ‘Love Aaj Kal’ by Aastha & Ankit, will go live on Spotify on December 3.

Spotify has made three acquisitions in the past year or so to turn itself into a Podcast destination. These include companies  such as Gimlet, Anchor and Parcast. These acquisitions have helped Spotify create a new platform called Spotify for Podcasters which makes it easier for anyone to start creating podcasts while at the same time get real time analytics on their content.

Spotify has seen exponential growth in the podcast hours streamed globally (up approximately 39 per cent from Q2 2019 to Q3 2019), with podcast adoption reaching almost 14 per cent of total monthly active users (MAUs). And while the  US accounts for the largest share of podcast streams, a majority of the growth and listening is now coming from outside the US.

India as a podcast market

India however is a fast growing podcast market and already ranks third, after the US and China, in terms of podcast consumption.

Currently, only 150 million Indians are estimated to be using audio-streaming services, which itself presents a massive opportunity of growth for podcasts.

However, the monthly podcast listeners in the country, who’ve listened to at least one podcast in a month, grew to 40 million at the end of 2018 from 25.8 million a year ago. This implies an annual growth of 57 per cent, according to a research by PwC.

While this is the first official launch of orignal podcasts for Spotify in India, the audio streaming platform has already been working with large podcast creators and IVM for a while in India. While aawaz offers its podcasts in Hindi, IVM primarily focusses on English-based podcasts.

Apart from Spotify, Indian audio streaming platforms Hungama, Gaana and Jio Saavn are already going bullish on the opportunity. However, generating revenues from podcasts is a challenge that’s plaguing the industry.

“Podcasts is a niche market. Even globally, monetization in podcasts has been a challenge and we don’t expect it to be any different in India. But we see podcasts as a long term opportunity and we are willing to invest in its growth,” Batra said.

Trending podcasts

India features in the all time top 3 streaming markets for tech show Waveform: The MKBHD Podcast, and for On Purpose with Jay Shetty, a show that’s been number 1 on Spotify’s India podcast chart since the time of launch. The country is also currently in the top ten streaming markets for TED Talks Daily and The Mindset Mentor. Other globally acclaimed podcasts such as Stuff You Should Know, and BBC’s Global News Podcast are also in the top 20 most streamed podcasts in India. Interestingly, local charts showcase 60 per cent of the top 10 podcasts on Spotify are on self-motivation based lifestyle content.

Globally, Spotify has invested in new original podcasts in the US, Europe, and South America. In June this year, President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama’s production company, Higher Ground, announced a partnership with Spotify to produce podcasts exclusive to the platform. The acquisitions of podcast networks Gimlet, and Parcast, and creator platform Anchor have also enabled the company to invest in high-quality content as well as providing an easy way for creators to record a podcast, respectively.

Published on November 19, 2019

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