Podcasting models mature and diversify

“When podcasting reaches its potential size, looking more like peak radio penetration thanks to these many new and improved sources of discovery, we’ll start to see several revenue models arise to support the diversity of content now possible by untethering the form from RSS.”

How do I want to start out my 2018 predictions? By saying “I called it” for 2017. Last year, my predictions centered around the high-touch, high-value propositions that content creators needed to put forth in order to ensure their own survival — from niche print titles (like my own, Racquet magazine), to premium/paywalls that have been the lifeblood of news outlets such as The New York Times, to the flourishing world of audio that I get to explore as content director at Acast.

These high-value propositions not only survived in the tumultuous year of our lord 2017 — one that saw digital-first operations like BuzzFeed and Mashable fall far short of revenue projections, slashing jobs and pivoting to video as they frantically tried to find an advertising model to sustain their heavy costs — they thrived. Why? Because they got much of their revenue directly from their audience, proving that in the era of platform dominance, an ad-supported model for journalism might always be a part of the mix, but it can never be the complete picture.

Instead of further gloating, I’ll make some more bold predictions for 2018:

Search and premium come to podcasting

With the acquisition of Audiosearch earlier this month, Apple made a bold move to reclaim some of the territory it had ceded to competitors in the realm of audio discovery. This is a signal that Apple sees the upcoming year of podcasting as one battling between itself, Google, Amazon, and platforms such as Acast — all trying to surface content to a podcast audience that doesn’t yet exist. That these big players don’t yet have a route to monetization, the way that Acast and Megaphone do, isn’t what’s interesting here — it’s that they’re betting on the 70-something percent of Americans who don’t regularly listen to podcasts to start listening through new ways of discovery.

Search, in-home devices, and native apps are all muscling into a territory that they will help expand quickly, giving podcast creators tremendous new freedom in storytelling formats and even revenue models. When podcasting reaches its potential size, looking more like peak radio penetration thanks to these many new and improved sources of discovery, we’ll start to see several revenue models arise to support the diversity of content now possible by untethering the form from RSS — short-form, daily, one-offs — supported by ads, subscription, or in-app purchasing like Acast Plus and many others, finally yielding the diversity that has always been podcasting’s essential promise.

We’ll tell you what’s important

I see the consumption models of content eventually hovering around two ends of a spectrum of engagement. On one hand, an atomized stream of content delivered around algorithmically and socially derived recommendations served to us via tech platforms — from Google Home to Twitter to Instagram — all interconnected and constantly calibrating to make sure we’re getting the most relevant content served up to us in our hands.

And on the other end of the spectrum, a complete lean-back experience, served to us when we barely remember we asked for it (hopefully inciting some whimsy and surprise), in a format that focuses our complete immersion in the experience. Of course, I’m talking about Racquet magazine — a print-only product we ship four times a year — filled with stories that we deem interesting, that have underappreciated subject matters, headlines that you’d never click on, and images you can’t encounter in a Google search. To enjoy our magazine, and the many, many other quarterlies that continue to pop up, you must completely surrender to the idea that you have almost no control over the content experience — your trust is our hands.

Caitlin Thompson is director of content for Acast and publisher of Racquet.

Tanya Cordrey   Finally, the seeds of radical reinvention

Kim Fox   Audience teams diversify their approach

Vivian Schiller   Pivot to tomorrow

Jarrod Dicker   Honesty in advertising

Edward Roussel   Eyes, ears, and brains

Hannah Cassius   The year of the echo-chamber escapists

Jim Brady   With the people, not just of the people

Felix Salmon   Covering bitcoin while owning bitcoin

Vanessa K. DeLuca   Women’s voices take center stage

Hossein Derakhshan   Television has won

Amie Ferris-Rotman   More female reporters abroad (please)

Lucas Graves   From algorithms to institutions

Luke O'Neil   The end is already here

Evie Nagy   Pivot to mobile video frustration

Feli Sánchez   The year for guerrilla user research

Ray Soto   VR reaches the next level

Manoush Zomorodi   Self-help as a publishing strategy

Yvonne Leow   The rise of video messaging

Alan Soon   The rise of start of psychographic, micro-targeted media

Mariano Blejman   News games rule

José Zamora   Revenue-first journalism

Matt DeRienzo   A recession, then a collapse

Sue Schardt   Jump the niche

Heather Bryant   Building the ecosystems for collaboration

Pete Brown   Push alerts, personalized

Ståle Grut   Reclaiming audience interaction from social networks

Elizabeth Jensen   Show your work

Umbreen Bhatti   The trust problem isn’t new

Rachel Davis Mersey   AI, with real smarts

Marie Gilot   No assholes allowed

Craig Newmark   Working together toward sustainable solutions

Alfred Hermida   Going beyond mobile-first

L. Gordon Crovitz   Serving readers over advertisers

Corey Johnson   The pro-fact resistance

Will Sommer   The year local media gets conservative

Paul Ford   Go global

Zizi Papacharissi   Women come back

Aron Pilhofer   We can’t leave the business to the business side any more

Dannagal G. Young   Stop covering politics as a game

Emily Goligoski   Looking beyond news for inspiration

Tamar Charney   We get serious about algorithms

Caitlin Thompson   Podcasting models mature and diversify

Kathleen McElroy   Building a news video experience native to mobile

Emma Carew Grovum   Newsroom culture becomes a priority

Monika Bauerlein   The firehose of falsehood

Mary Walter-Brown   Show a little vulnerability

Jim Moroney   Newspapers have to be good enough for readers to pay for

Tim Carmody   Watch out for Spotify

Borja Echevarría   TV goes digital, digital goes TV

Dheerja Kaur   Fun with subscription products

Nushin Rashidian   Publishers seek ad dollar alternatives

Damon Krukowski   Reviving the alt-weekly soul

Federica Cherubini   The rise of bridge roles in news organizations

Joanne Lipman   Journalists inventing revenue streams

Trushar Barot   The Jio-fication of India

Francesco Marconi   The year of machine-to-machine journalism

Raney Aronson-Rath   Transparency is the antidote to fake news

Raju Narisetti   Mirror, mirror on the wall

Neha Gandhi   Filler killers

Cory Haik   Suffering from realness, pivoting to impact

S. Mitra Kalita   The arc of news and audience

Rubina Madan Fillion   Unlocking the potential of AI

Jennifer Choi   Standing up for us and for each other

Pablo Boczkowski   The rise of skeptical reading

Frédéric Filloux   External forces

Julia Beizer   A longer view on the pivot

Jessica Parker Gilbert   Design connects storytelling and strategy

Alice Antheaume   Are you fluent in AI?

Imaeyen Ibanga   Longform video leads the way

Burt Herman   Things get real

Rick Berke   Value is the watchword

Taylor Lorenz   Social and media will split

Jared Newman   Venture funding and digital news don’t mix

Joanne McNeil   Gatekeeping the gatekeepers

C.W. Anderson   The social media apocalypse

Lanre Akinola   Making noise is not a strategy

Monique Judge   Letting black women tell their own stories

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen   The Snapchat scenario and the risk of more closed platforms

Rachel Schallom   Better design helps differentiate opinion and news

Errin Haines Whack   At the ballot, it’s time to count black women

Andrew Haeg   The year journalists become relationship builders

Justin Kosslyn   The year journalists become digital security experts

Richard J. Tofel   The platforms’ power demands more reporters’ attention

Jassim Ahmad   Thriving on change

Brian Lam   Sketchy ethics around product reviews

Jake Levine   The return to now

Mariana Moura Santos   Think local, act global

Carrie Brown-Smith   Transparency finally takes off

Sarah Marshall   Loyalty as the key performance indicator

Andrew Ramsammy   The year ownership mattered

An Xiao Mina   Memes and visuals come to the fore

Jennifer Coogan   The future is female

Amy Webb   Listen to weak signals

Michael Kuntz   The only pivot that might work

Valérie Bélair-Gagnon   Seeking trust in fragmented spaces

Eric Nuzum   Beyond the narrative arc

Julia B. Chan   Looking for loyalty in all the right places

Juleyka Lantigua-Williams   Women of color will reclaim and monetize our time

Almar Latour   Conquering calm

Jennifer Brandel and Mónica Guzmán   The editorial meeting of the future

Niketa Patel   Live journalism comes of age

David Skok   Finding an information-life balance

Kyle Ellis   Let’s build our way out of this

Claire Wardle   Disinformation gets worse

Jacqui Cheng   Retailers move into content

Sydette Harry   Listen to your corner and watch for the hook

Laura E. Davis   Writing answers before you know the question

Matt Carlson   Attacks on the press will get worse

Lam Thuy Vo   Breaking free from the tyranny of the loudest

Kinsey Wilson   Facebook and Google: Help out or pay up

Daniel Trielli   The rich get richer, the poor scramble

Basile Simon   We need better career paths for news nerds

Christopher Meighan   Passive partnership is in the rearview

Kelsey Proud   No, no, no

Ruth Palmer   Risks will grow for news subjects — especially minorities

Pia Frey   Address users as individuals

Jesse Holcomb   Information disorder, coming to a congressional district near you

Cristina Wilson   The year of the Instagram Story

Nikki Usher   The year of The Washington Post

Mira Lowe   The year of the local watchdog

Mario García   Storytelling finally adapts to mobile

Kawandeep Virdee   Zines had it right all along

Molly de Aguiar   Good journalism won’t be enough

Usha Sahay   Wallets get opened

Matt Thompson   Here come the attention managers

Rodney Benson   Better, less read, and less trusted

Nicholas Diakopoulos   Fortifying social media from automated inauthenticity

Mandy Velez   texting is lit rn, fam

Betsy O'Donovan and Melody Kramer   Skepticism and narcissism

Mi-Ai Parrish   Blockchain and trust

Dan Newman   A return to trust

P. Kim Bui   The reckoning is only beginning

Debra Adams Simmons   And a woman shall lead them

Kristen Muller   The year of the voter

Amy King   Let’s amplify visual voice

Miguel Castro   The arrival of the impact producer

Bill Keller   A growing turn to philanthropy

Corey Ford   The empire strikes back

Nathalie Malinarich   Peak push

Steve Grove   The midterms are an opportunity

Michelle Garcia   Navigating journalistic transparency

Joyce Barnathan   It will be harder to bury the news

Eric Ulken   The year local publishers get smart(er) about change

Sam Sanders   Shine the light on ourselves

Sally Lehrman   Trust comes first

Sara M. Watson   Feeds will open up to new user-determined filters

Ariana Tobin   Too tired to tap

Renée Kaplan   The year of quiet adjustments (shhh)

Carlos Martínez de la Serna   The new journalism commons

Adam Thomas   Sharing is caring: The year of the mentor

Michelle Ferrier   The year of the great reckoning

Sam Ford   The year of investing in processes

Tanzina Vega   It’s time for media companies to #PassTheMic

Charo Henríquez   Training is an investment, not an expense

Mary Meehan   Real lives are at stake in rural areas

Nancy Watzman   Know thy TV

Alexios Mantzarlis   Moving fake news research out of the lab

Caitria O'Neill   The new court of public opinion

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Publishing less to give readers more

John Keefe   Scooped by AI

Cindy Royal   Your journalism curriculum is obsolete

Doris Truong   Computer vision vs. the Internet vigilantes

Jamie Mottram   From pageviews to t-shirts

Nicholas Quah   Stop talking trash about young people

Helen Havlak   Keywords, not publishers, power the world’s biggest feeds

Tracie Powell   The muting of underserved voices

Mike Caulfield   Refactoring media literacy for the networked age

Millie Tran and Stine Bauer Dahlberg   (Hint: It’s about your brand)

Dan Shanoff   You down with OTT? (Yeah, DTC)

Susie Banikarim   R.I.P. Pivot to Video (2017–2017)

Andrew Losowsky   The year of resilience

Matt Boggie   The intellectual equivalent of the Dead Sea

Alastair Coote   The year of self-improvement

Marcela Donini and Thiago Herdy   Collaboration is the way forward for Brazilian journalism

Juliette De Maeyer   A responsible press criticism

Rodney Gibbs   Tech workers turn to journalism