Plugged in: The age of the podcast

Recent research by Edison Research, The Infinite Dial New Zealand, looked at the country’s digital audio landscape. A significant finding shows that New Zealand is one of the leading countries in podcast listening. We chat with two of Aotearoa’s largest media companies, MediaWorks and NZME, on the current state of podcasts and the trajectory it is going.

Podcasts are growing at a rapid rate here in New Zealand, with 80 percent of Kiwis over the age of 16 aware of podcasts, coming in second just below Australia and beating the likes of the US, the UK and Canada. 

In just the past month, 39 percent of Kiwis have listened to a podcast, with New Zealanders listening to an average five podcasts weekly. 

James Butcher, Head of Digital Audio at NZME, says the popularity of podcasts is because on a global level, podcast consumption is growing. 

“One of the great things about podcasting is the accessibility – you can listen to so much content at the click of a button,” he adds. 

Richie Culph, Head of Digital Audio at MediaWorks adds that with the likes of social media, podcasts are free content, making it accessible on platforms such as Spotify, Apple, iHeartRadio and Rova, easy for audiences to consume, hence the growth of podcasts. 

Larry Rosin, President of Edison Research says that growth of podcast awareness mirrors the growth in Australia which is growing rapidly as they use podcasts as a form of radio catch-up. 

Both Culph and Butcher agree that catch-up radio is a “big part of the podcast ecosystem”.

Podcasts as a way to catch-up on radio is the “digital inflation” point of radio, where audiences can listen to it on-demand, says Culph. 

“This is driven by audiences that want to do things when they want to do things, they like their breakfast show, they like their drive show but they’re not always in their car to listen to it and this really enables more people to listen to that content wherever they are,” he says.

Culph and Butcher believe the reason this works so well is because of the intersections both radio and podcasts have. 

“A lot of the highest-ranking podcasts are highlights of radio shows, that’s how it translates from the audience side to the podcast side,” says Peter Richardson, General Manager of The Radio Bureau. 

Some of the highest-ranking podcasts in New Zealand include shows such as Mike Hosking’s breakfast show and Heather du-Plessis-Allan’s drive show from Newstalk ZB.

Among the 80 percent of Kiwis who are aware of podcasts, statistics across the ages of 16-55 are similar, meaning podcasts are reaching all ages.

Butcher adds that with NZME’s wide range of radio shows and original content they can reach a wider New Zealand demographic.

“One of the things we love about podcasting is our ability to serve different communities, different audiences, different niches,” he says.

Podcasting offers endless potential as they allow the opportunity to deep dive into certain topics Culph says.

Original content that has taken off in New Zealand is companion podcasts, he adds, as they go hand-in-hand with certain television shows that allow fans to consume more content of that media, such as Inside Celebrity Treasure Island. 

Original content podcasts are also popular with Butcher saying they have a “whole suite of content” that NZME has been developing to serve audiences and communities “that perhaps past channels haven’t allowed us to do”. 

The trajectory of podcasts is on the rise not just globally but in New Zealand as major broadcasting companies such as NZME and Mediaworks zero in on the audio form. 

Across the world, there are over 55 million podcast episodes in the Spotify library, and Butcher believes it is important that New Zealand does not get lost in such a huge catalogue. 

“That is why it is very important to have a healthy and robust local industry where New Zealand voices, stories, content and personalities is strong in the market,” he adds. 

Though Culph says New Zealand still has a long way to go, there is only up from here as the country reaches the beginning stages of the digital infliction point of radio. 

It appears the New Zealand podcast industry is healthy, strong and thriving as more and more Kiwis start adding podcasts to their daily routine. 

Click here to learn more about The Infinite Dial New Zealand research and keep an eye out for more articles published daily across Radio Week (November 21-25), as part of our exclusive content series in partnership with The Radio Bureau.

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