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.

Frédéric Filloux   External forces

Nancy Watzman   Know thy TV

Ståle Grut   Reclaiming audience interaction from social networks

Nushin Rashidian   Publishers seek ad dollar alternatives

Damon Krukowski   Reviving the alt-weekly soul

Christopher Meighan   Passive partnership is in the rearview

Amy King   Let’s amplify visual voice

Laura E. Davis   Writing answers before you know the question

Renée Kaplan   The year of quiet adjustments (shhh)

Niketa Patel   Live journalism comes of age

Betsy O'Donovan and Melody Kramer   Skepticism and narcissism

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

Trushar Barot   The Jio-fication of India

Claire Wardle   Disinformation gets worse

S. Mitra Kalita   The arc of news and audience

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

Elizabeth Jensen   Show your work

Rachel Schallom   Better design helps differentiate opinion and news

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

Ray Soto   VR reaches the next level

Dan Newman   A return to trust

Matt DeRienzo   A recession, then a collapse

Dannagal G. Young   Stop covering politics as a game

Kim Fox   Audience teams diversify their approach

Monika Bauerlein   The firehose of falsehood

Rodney Benson   Better, less read, and less trusted

Cindy Royal   Your journalism curriculum is obsolete

Matt Carlson   Attacks on the press will get worse

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

Vanessa K. DeLuca   Women’s voices take center stage

Joanne McNeil   Gatekeeping the gatekeepers

Michael Kuntz   The only pivot that might work

Ariana Tobin   Too tired to tap

Doris Truong   Computer vision vs. the Internet vigilantes

Rachel Davis Mersey   AI, with real smarts

C.W. Anderson   The social media apocalypse

Eric Nuzum   Beyond the narrative arc

Raney Aronson-Rath   Transparency is the antidote to fake news

Cristina Wilson   The year of the Instagram Story

Hossein Derakhshan   Television has won

Heather Bryant   Building the ecosystems for collaboration

Sue Schardt   Jump the niche

Yvonne Leow   The rise of video messaging

Adam Thomas   Sharing is caring: The year of the mentor

Daniel Trielli   The rich get richer, the poor scramble

Mariana Moura Santos   Think local, act global

Alastair Coote   The year of self-improvement

Neha Gandhi   Filler killers

Michelle Garcia   Navigating journalistic transparency

Borja Echevarría   TV goes digital, digital goes TV

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

Kyle Ellis   Let’s build our way out of this

Valérie Bélair-Gagnon   Seeking trust in fragmented spaces

Sydette Harry   Listen to your corner and watch for the hook

Caitlin Thompson   Podcasting models mature and diversify

Andrew Haeg   The year journalists become relationship builders

Dheerja Kaur   Fun with subscription products

Mike Caulfield   Refactoring media literacy for the networked age

Pia Frey   Address users as individuals

Jake Levine   The return to now

Jim Brady   With the people, not just of the people

Lanre Akinola   Making noise is not a strategy

Jassim Ahmad   Thriving on change

Rubina Madan Fillion   Unlocking the potential of AI

Kristen Muller   The year of the voter

Mandy Velez   texting is lit rn, fam

Imaeyen Ibanga   Longform video leads the way

Kelsey Proud   No, no, no

Justin Kosslyn   The year journalists become digital security experts

P. Kim Bui   The reckoning is only beginning

Vivian Schiller   Pivot to tomorrow

Andrew Losowsky   The year of resilience

José Zamora   Revenue-first journalism

Joanne Lipman   Journalists inventing revenue streams

Basile Simon   We need better career paths for news nerds

Monique Judge   Letting black women tell their own stories

Carlos Martínez de la Serna   The new journalism commons

Amie Ferris-Rotman   More female reporters abroad (please)

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

Jared Newman   Venture funding and digital news don’t mix

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Publishing less to give readers more

Francesco Marconi   The year of machine-to-machine journalism

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

Jacqui Cheng   Retailers move into content

Jamie Mottram   From pageviews to t-shirts

Usha Sahay   Wallets get opened

Jennifer Coogan   The future is female

Pete Brown   Push alerts, personalized

Sarah Marshall   Loyalty as the key performance indicator

Paul Ford   Go global

Nicholas Quah   Stop talking trash about young people

Emily Goligoski   Looking beyond news for inspiration

Caitria O'Neill   The new court of public opinion

Matt Thompson   Here come the attention managers

Alfred Hermida   Going beyond mobile-first

Brian Lam   Sketchy ethics around product reviews

David Skok   Finding an information-life balance

Steve Grove   The midterms are an opportunity

Emma Carew Grovum   Newsroom culture becomes a priority

Miguel Castro   The arrival of the impact producer

Carrie Brown-Smith   Transparency finally takes off

Corey Ford   The empire strikes back

Zizi Papacharissi   Women come back

Taylor Lorenz   Social and media will split

Kawandeep Virdee   Zines had it right all along

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

Mary Meehan   Real lives are at stake in rural areas

Kinsey Wilson   Facebook and Google: Help out or pay up

Mi-Ai Parrish   Blockchain and trust

Felix Salmon   Covering bitcoin while owning bitcoin

Ruth Palmer   Risks will grow for news subjects — especially minorities

L. Gordon Crovitz   Serving readers over advertisers

Lucas Graves   From algorithms to institutions

Tracie Powell   The muting of underserved voices

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

Tim Carmody   Watch out for Spotify

An Xiao Mina   Memes and visuals come to the fore

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

Molly de Aguiar   Good journalism won’t be enough

Alexios Mantzarlis   Moving fake news research out of the lab

John Keefe   Scooped by AI

Pablo Boczkowski   The rise of skeptical reading

Michelle Ferrier   The year of the great reckoning

Nathalie Malinarich   Peak push

Mira Lowe   The year of the local watchdog

Jennifer Choi   Standing up for us and for each other

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

Will Sommer   The year local media gets conservative

Julia Beizer   A longer view on the pivot

Raju Narisetti   Mirror, mirror on the wall

Evie Nagy   Pivot to mobile video frustration

Debra Adams Simmons   And a woman shall lead them

Hannah Cassius   The year of the echo-chamber escapists

Rodney Gibbs   Tech workers turn to journalism

Juliette De Maeyer   A responsible press criticism

Feli Sánchez   The year for guerrilla user research

Tamar Charney   We get serious about algorithms

Almar Latour   Conquering calm

Sam Ford   The year of investing in processes

Sam Sanders   Shine the light on ourselves

Marie Gilot   No assholes allowed

Jessica Parker Gilbert   Design connects storytelling and strategy

Sally Lehrman   Trust comes first

Burt Herman   Things get real

Jarrod Dicker   Honesty in advertising

Cory Haik   Suffering from realness, pivoting to impact

Nikki Usher   The year of The Washington Post

Matt Boggie   The intellectual equivalent of the Dead Sea

Craig Newmark   Working together toward sustainable solutions

Federica Cherubini   The rise of bridge roles in news organizations

Andrew Ramsammy   The year ownership mattered

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

Corey Johnson   The pro-fact resistance

Joyce Barnathan   It will be harder to bury the news

Mary Walter-Brown   Show a little vulnerability

Kathleen McElroy   Building a news video experience native to mobile

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

Luke O'Neil   The end is already here

Manoush Zomorodi   Self-help as a publishing strategy

Bill Keller   A growing turn to philanthropy

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

Charo Henríquez   Training is an investment, not an expense

Mario García   Storytelling finally adapts to mobile

Rick Berke   Value is the watchword

Amy Webb   Listen to weak signals

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

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

Mariano Blejman   News games rule

Alice Antheaume   Are you fluent in AI?

Nicholas Diakopoulos   Fortifying social media from automated inauthenticity

Edward Roussel   Eyes, ears, and brains

Umbreen Bhatti   The trust problem isn’t new

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

Jennifer Brandel and Mónica Guzmán   The editorial meeting of the future

Lam Thuy Vo   Breaking free from the tyranny of the loudest

Tanya Cordrey   Finally, the seeds of radical reinvention