The proliferation of audio form content across international media is not a secret that needs unveiling. However, while many analysts linked an upsurge in podcast listenership with pandemic lifestyles, the UK is projected to yield yet another 11% audience increase in 2022 and continues to encompass even broader demographics.
With the BBC reporting 558 million plays of podcasts and on-demand radio programmes last year, it's worth taking a closer look at the forces driving demand for audio, how it is impacting the media-sphere and the implications for organisations who are adopting this growing communication channel.
With this in mind, I asked Sky News Anchor, Dermot Murnaghan about the transformation of broadcast news at a recent Q&A session hosted at Edelman. I pressed Dermot on whether the era of rolling TV news is set to fall by the wayside. Dermot urged, "not just yet", rightly contending that it remains the go-to for big moments of breaking news.
Nonetheless, he didn't deny that news has dramatically changed since the beginning of his 38-year career in journalism. The glamour surrounding television news as he was starting out at Sky, the first ever rolling 24-hour news channel, is now dispelling into an era where broadcast must fight hard to stay relevant.
What does that mean for our industry? Will broadcast slots move to the periphery as we pursue new channels for clients? It's difficult to predict. What we do know is that according to the 2022 Reuters News and Insights report, the audio consumption phenomenon is urging structural change as 80% of publishers will pledge more resources for podcast and digital audio as a priority this year. Demonstrated in this study, publishers are betting on higher levels of engagement from audio than investments in text and video.
As a veteran broadcaster in the traditional medium, Dermot agreed that the eyes and ears of news bosses are becoming digital. The emergence of not only podcast, but a range of digital formats in audio articles, flash briefings and audio functionality for social media such (Twitter Spaces and Reddit Talk) means that adopting alternatives is increasingly valuable for corporate communication. For example, Sky News now shares a QR code welcoming viewers to continue listening to reporting on a story at the end many broadcast items.
Another indication of this shift is The New York Times' plan to roll out a new app for audio this year. Having acquired long-form narration platform Audm, The Times will supplement prioritised read-aloud articles with a multitude of different audio formats for journalism and storytelling.
While it is important to unpack the forces driving demand for audio content – notably flexible working hours brought about by the pandemic, smartphone connectivity and access to headphone technology – how can organisations and businesses seize positive outcomes in line with this change? The answer is leaders and executives engaging in authentic, conversational interactions which resonate not only at a professional level, but a personal one, helping to capture increasingly diverse and inquisitive audiences.
Podcasts and recorded interviews shouldn't be seen as an opportunity for journalists and interviewers to disarm well-prepared punchlines and calls to action, but instead an opportunity to deliver a compelling narrative and ambition that goes beyond the corporate storyboard. At Edelman, we understand that Trust is built through discernible commitments to all stakeholders. So, as the growth of digital audio seems here to stay, let's draw on this medium for voices to be heard.
Tatiana Alderson is a Senior Account Executive in the Corporate Affairs team at Edelman