Why Podcasts are Popular in India

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The podcast became a phenomenon when Apple shared thousands of downloadable clips on iTunes, in addition to music. They were well received all over the world where Apple products were sold. In India too, podcasts were gaining popularity with Apple owners around a decade back. But the trend fizzled out for unknown reasons. But why are podcasts popular in India now? Below are some insights, and reasons, for the popularity of podcasts in India. 

Rise in Female Audience: Why Podcasts are Popular in India 

“India already is one of the places in the world where women do the largest amount of unpaid work, spending an estimated 5.6 hours daily on it, compared to a global average of 4.4hrs…Like elsewhere in the world, Covid-19 made that burden even bigger, eating into whatever privacy and personal space women had been able to carve for themselves. Confined at home, without the respite of the office or of children being at school and husbands at work, and with the added care-taking load of extended families, many women felt overwhelmed”, write Annalisa Merelli and Manavi Kapur.

Podcasts are actively being consumed by women today. The popularity of podcasts is increasing steadily every year amongst them, according to some reports. One of the main reasons why podcasts are getting popular amongst women is due to the sense of well-being they attach to listening to a podcast.

The rise in women consuming podcasts has brought about a revolution in podcast production. Podcast producers are tailoring content for women based on their lifestyles and look optimistic about the podcast market in the coming years. 

“There is an empowerment that’s taking place,” says Mae Thomas who runs a podcast production company called Maed in India. “If I had to tell you the number of calls I get from women who want to host their own show! Because whatever it is that you want to do, you’re able to do it in this space, you feel like your voice will be heard. Nothing else matters—it’s about what you’re trying to say”, according to the two writes on qz.com. 

Big and Small Causes for Why Podcasts are Popular in India.

Annalisa and Manavi say, “A portmanteau of iPod and broadcast, this small yet significantly growing segment of online entertainment holds great potential in a country with a massive youth population, abysmally slow internet speeds, and perennially long daily commutes. Already, music streaming has gained popularity in India for these reasons”.

In fact, the biggest online platform for videos, Youtube, is also the biggest music consumption platform for India. Given the reach of music in the country, would it be fair to assume that podcasts can be popular too in India? One can confidently say that it could be a listening alternative to other new media technologies. 

Ananya Bhattacharya writes on scroll.in, “We think, for anyone who is between the ages of 16 and 28, their attention span is short, that they’re a headline generation. They’ve gotten upset with this perception,” said Gaurav Kapoor, host of Spotify original podcast 22 Yards. “They’re swinging the pendulum the other way and are extremely interested in doing deep dives.”

Millennials and Gen Z also form big-sized segments of audiences listening to podcasts today. Popularity amongst youth has ensured a market boom and the opening up of creative possibilities for the medium. Bollywood and its spinoffs are already strong contenders in the market. Podcasts based on politics, news, daily talk shows etc. are also gaining steady ground with consumers.  

“One hack that’s working to spread the word is leveraging one of India’s biggest obsessions: Bollywood. JioSaavn’s #NoFilterNeha is already on its third season and IshqFM’s shows hosted by Karan Johar and Kareena Kapoor have garnered massive listenerships, too. Kalki Koechlin got a second season of BBC podcast My Indian Life. Clearly, in a country where Bollywood is all the craze, celebrities can help podcasts go the extra mile”, according to qz.com.

Technology start ups and companies are also interested in the podcast revolution.  They want to help people who produce good content. Some of them sometimes have to compromise on the quality of technology. AI-based technologies plan to address the needs of such podcast producers. 

“AI-based platform for podcasts, content aggregation, and publishing, Hubhopper, has tried to remove the barriers, owner Gautam Raj Anand told Quartz. “It’s such a travesty and shame that technology hampers their [podcasters’] creation,” he said. “We gave free hosting, free recording as software, free basic editing like pre-roll, post-roll, background music, cropping, fade in and out, and so on.”Other paid platforms like BuzzSprout and Transistor also offer similar podcast hosting services”.

Romancing the Region with Diverse and Localised Audio Content. 

For the podcast to be as popular as music content online, regional and language barriers have to be overcome. The challenges of doing so may be manifold, but the diverse influences would make podcast content rich and consumable. 

“Overcoming the language barrier in a diverse country like India is crucial. For now, the listenership is mostly urban. For IVM, 40% of it is the Indian diaspora internationally. A large part of actress Koechlin’s audience is also Indians residing abroad. However, data show that the regional markets offer a massive opportunity. “Most podcasts are created in English but most listens we get in Hindi and other languages,” said Umesh Barve, Audioboom’s head of partnerships. “One Bhojpuri and one Assamese podcast are always among top 10 or 15 most heard,” he says in a report on qz.com.