podcasting industry predictions 2020In this article, I outline 17 podcasting industry predictions you should be aware of if you plan on starting a podcast in 2020. But if you’re someone interested in jumping in and start working on your podcast right away, do check out my earlier articles on developing your podcast ideas and outlining your podcast.

Also, download my 2020 Podcasting Strategy Handbook.

Inside the handbook, I outline fifteen handpicked strategies for independent podcasters, marketers, businesses, and corporations. You can use them to evaluate and effectively position podcasts for your brands and businesses in the new decade.

The Podcasting Industry Is Changing.

As of December 2019, there are over 800,000 active podcasts available in Apple Podcasts. This number was 700,000 in 2019 and 550,000 in 2018. A term that was born as a combination of “pod” from Apple’s iPod and “cast” from the term broadcast, has today become a sizable industry that’s expected to create $1 billion in annual revenue by 2021.

But you’re probably thinking…

Why Should I Care About This Change?

That’s a question you should be asking. And, here’s why you should…

Unlike no other time in history, the year 2020 will see a few changes and trends meet eye-to-eye. Here are just 7 of them:

  1. Internet speeds and latency.
  2. Commercial interest in podcasting.
  3. Technology (Voice recognition, speech-to-text, AI, Search)
  4. Evolution of eCommerce
  5. Millennial and Gen Z in the workforce
  6. Gig Economy
  7. Storytelling Tech

In this article, I don’t intend to get deep into each of the above. But I hope to share my views on some of the important ways the podcasting industry will change, and the effect it will have on other industries.

So without further ado, let’s dive straight into the 17 podcasting industry predictions. Please note that these predictions are in no particular order. I’ve written some of these predictions for the longer term (5-10 years), and some others with the shorter term in mind (1-5 years).

1. Business to Consumer and Business to Employee

Companies, big and small, will embrace podcasts. They’ll use podcasts to connect, communicate, and engage effectively with their customers, partners, vendors, distributors, and employees. With unique challenges created by increasing diversity in the workforce, remote work, and the gig economy, businesses will rethink traditional communication models. They’ll start to embrace podcasts both internally and externally.

2. Rise of Brand Storytelling Podcasts

As the consumption of audio increases in the digital-360 world, companies will start to think beyond traditional advertising, branding, and marketing.

Companies and brands, big and small, will start to use podcasts to tell their brand stories. Voice will help personify brands and this will lead to companies, organizations, and brands leveraging it to the fullest. From sponsorships to brand placements, the podcasting industry is going to see a rise in brand storytelling.

3. Portability, Compactness, and Consolidation

The podcasting industry is going to witness portability, compactness, and consolidation across the board (and this has already started). From portable studios to portable equipment, from compact setups to turnkey production, the industry will witness newer solutions. Some examples of this are already visible today. Rodecaster Pro, Zencaster, Yellowtec iXm are just a few of them.

4. PodBots?

Robots are everywhere today, and the podcasting industry will see PodBots too. As much as podcasts are creative, podcasting has a lot of mechanical elements to it. Transcription, parts of the editing process, show notes are just some of these mechanical elements. While some of this is already happening (AI powered transcription services) I see a lot more PodBots playing a big role in 2020 and beyond. This will have a huge impact (in a positive way) on the amateur and independent podcasting ecosystem.

5. Podcasting Goes Pro

Professional grade quality will start to become necessary for even amateur podcasts. Today it’s just the ones produced by radio stations and professional producers that produce such high-quality content. A lot of changes in the area of equipment, software, and more will have a huge impact on this move.

Cheaper microphones, noise-canceling software, portable automated audio interfaces (think of “magic boxes” that automatically create good sound). These are just some examples.

6. Replace Radio

Radio has been around for more than a century. Then came satellite radio. Now let’s welcome podcasts. It’s rather dumb to call internet radio a prediction because it’s not. But podcasts, unlike internet radio, brought in the flexibility with pre-recorded content and the ability to listen at your convenience.

As the internet speeds increase, streaming podcasts or LIVE podcasts and pre-recorded podcasts are going to replace the current FM radio in the second half of this decade. Technologies like 5G that have lower latency and higher speed will usher a new era in podcasting.

7. From Medium to Tool

Podcasts will start to be looked upon more as a tool than a medium. Podcasts as a medium have helped podcasters and brands look at repurposing existing content and creating fresh content. But as a tool, podcasts can help you accomplish something for your brand or business.

Brands and businesses will start to use podcasting as a way to make an impact on their customers, partners, employees. Be it retaining employees, strengthening partnerships, or launching a product, podcasts’ larger role will put podcasting in front and center of your brand or business.

8. Google Will Solve the Podcast Discovery Problem

In the Yahoo! days, written content like blogs could not be easily discovered. And then came Google. Despite competition from Microsoft and others, Google Search is by far the best. But as podcasts started to swell, the question was why Google wasn’t doing anything about them.

It turns out, Google has taken a special interest in podcasts. So much so that it started to index podcasts in its search results from the beginning of 2019. Today, there are a lot of apps and platforms that have set out to solve the “podcast discovery” problem. But no matter what they do, I firmly believe Google will have the final answer.

If you know of some company doing this well, leave a comment. I’ll start to track them when I do a mid-year update to the predictions. For now, I have my bets on Google.

9. Transparent Boardrooms

The reason podcasts are a hit when it comes to developing trust and building relationships, is because of voice. Just listening to someone is 100 times better than reading a page full of words. Company boardrooms are considered to be the place for CxOs. What if people outside are privy to some of those conversations?

The years 2020 and beyond are going to see an increased level of willingness by CxOs to make boardrooms transparent. As I outline in prediction #1, we’ll start to see more companies embrace internal podcasts and later use podcasts to connect with customers.

10. Podcasts In Corporate Budgets

More than a prediction of what’s new, this is a prediction of what will significantly grow in the next decade. Marketing budgets of all companies, big and small, will start to feature a section for podcasts. In addition to this, I see other departments inside companies set aside a budget for podcasting too.

Where do these budgets get used? Will they be used to produce podcasts or sponsor other podcasts? These will greatly depend on the size of these businesses and their broader agenda.

11. Rise of Unified Storytelling

Storytelling has been around for ages but has been significantly changed over the last 50 to 75 years. At first, people told stories in writing. And then with the advancement in communication technologies, they leveraged the television, radio and of course telephone.

The growth of the internet with higher speeds and lower latencies has led to the television, radio, and telephone being replaced with their internet equivalents. As podcasts start to replace the traditional radio, there will be a great focus on Unified Storytelling.

Unified storytelling is a term I use to refer to the seamless storytelling experience created when we use video, audio, and written forms of storytelling together.

12. Monetization Gets Scientific

Podcast monetization has always been a black box, and this may not fully change. But it will get more scientific. Dynamic Ad Insertion has already been used by multiple podcast hosting providers, but this is just one aspect of monetization.

Platforms and apps will start to use techniques and algorithms that use human behavioral psychology to help podcasters monetize their podcasts.

13. “BookCasts” & “AuthorCasts”

The years 2020 and beyond are going to start seeing the alignment and unification of audiobooks and the podcasting industry.

A lot of authors have relied on using podcasts as a marketing medium. Authors have been essentially looking for a way to engage with their readers (or listeners of their audiobooks). So far, podcasts have been one of the preferred means for authors to engage with readers. Unification of the two – audiobooks and podcasts – will bring in interesting, contextual, and real-time engagement.

14. Interactive Marketplace for Voice Assisted Commerce

Podcasts are going to be a marketplace for Voice Assisted Commerce. Imagine listening to a podcast by an author who has just published his first book. At certain sections of the podcast, you can use your voice as a way to buy that book.

This also leads me to say that podcasts will get interactive in the first place. They are so unidirectional today. The only way you can interact with the host is by leaving a comment, a rating, or a review. And this will change in the next 5 years from 2020. Podcasts will get interactive using voice. Leaving reviews, rating, or commenting or just bookmarking sections are some activities one can imagine doing with voice. But that’s just the beginning.

15. Audio Learning Platforms – Books, Courses, Podcasts

Audio Learning Platforms will become a reality. There are ebooks, audiobooks, courses, and podcasts today. But they all live in separate ecosystems of apps and platforms. This is going to change.

They will start to get more interconnected via software APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) to create unified audio learning platforms. Platforms like this can help solve the global illiteracy problem. They can also help scale education beyond tier-1 and tier-2 cities and towns around the world.

16. Voice-To-Text Will Come of Age

Speech-to-text processing has come a long way from the first speech recognition system from 1952 to date. There are a lot of podcast transcription services that use Artificial Intelligence and speech recognition to create automated podcast transcripts. But all said and done, these systems are still not “as good as” humans.

The next decade is going to see these voice-to-text systems with high levels of accuracy / low error rate change the podcasting industry. And these will be comparable to manual human transcription.

17. Universal Standard Protocol for Ratings & Reviews

Getting ratings and reviews has been one of the biggest challenges podcasters have faced ever since the birth of podcasts. Podcasters have struggled on getting their listeners to leave a rating and review for their shows. Too many apps, mobile platforms, has led to this challenge. But this is going to change.

The podcasting industry will see the introduction of a Universal Standard Protocol for Podcasts (yes, I call it the USPP). It’s a protocol that will establish a common language for the way podcasts are represented on the internet. This protocol will help establish a “single source” for everything related to a podcast. Today, it’s just the podcast episode content that is a single source. Everything else including description, ratings, reviews, etc. are specific to podcasting apps. Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and many other apps have native ratings and reviews system. This problem will cease to exist.

And there you go – these are my 17 predictions that I think will change the face of the podcasting industry in 2020. But as I started to write these predictions, I started to see a few important podcasting strategies play an important role in the coming years.

That’s why I present to you…

2020 podcasting predictions

The 2020 Podcasting Strategy Handbook

If you’re evaluating podcasts for your business, or looking to create the right podcast for your brand, don’t forget to download the 2020 Podcasting Strategy Handbook. Here’s why…

In this handbook, I outline 15 handpicked strategies for independent podcasters, marketers, businesses, and corporations. You can use them to evaluate and effectively position podcasts for your brands and businesses in the new decade.

It’s Your Turn

These are the 17 predictions I have for the podcasting industry in 2020 and beyond. Some of these predictions are an extrapolation of what exists today. But many of them are what I call “net new” trends that have the potential of changing the industry and possibly creating newer ones.

The podcasting industry is bound to grow with newer markets. There will be newer players, newer niches, newer types of content, and of course more investments. But I hope this report and the 2020 Podcasting Strategy Handbook will help you effectively position your podcast for your brand and business.

Now it’s your turn. Which of these predictions did you like or resonate with the most?

Leave a comment below with your favorite prediction. Let me know how the prediction will change your world, your business, and your brand.

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