Hot Pod is a trade newsletter about the emerging podcast and on-demand audio industry, by me, Nick Quah. It’s also syndicated on Nieman Lab, and the work here has also been cited by the New York Times, Bloomberg, Wired, the Columbia Journalism Review, the Wall Street Journal, and the Financial Times.  If you’re wondering what my deal is, check out my profiles on Poynter and Fast Company. I also review podcasts for Vulture.

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PROGRAMMING NOTICE (September 5, 2017 – October 12, 2017)

I’m currently doing the Visiting Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University, studying up on models for local podcasts. As a result, Hot Pod won’t be publishing normally between Sept. 5 and Oct. 12. I will instead be publishing The Hot Pod Sabbatical Series, a line-up of smart contributors who I’ve commissioned to write specific pieces. The next normal Hot Pod will be published on October 17, 2017.

I will, however, still be publishing news roundups for paying supporters of Hot Pod. Consider chipping in.

In the meantime, here’s the last newsletter I wrote: a state of the industry, of sorts.



Hot Pod, September 5, 2017:
These are the most important developments in the podcast business so far in 2017


The year so far.
 We begin by asking: Just how much has the industry grown over the past year? And do we have a better understanding of the space than we did before? I’ve been keeping these two digits pinned to my notebook:

  • Audience size: 67 million U.S. monthly listeners, according to Edison and Triton Digital’s annual Infinite Dial report, up 21 percent from 57 million from the year before. The volume of growth between 2017 and 2016 is slightly less than the period immediately preceding it (4 percentage points off a smaller base), which was a source of consternation among some in the podcast community at the time. But as I wrote back when the report first dropped: “We’re still talking 10 million new Americans actively listening to a medium that (a) is still propped up by a barely evolved technological infrastructure, (b) has only seen a few instances of significant capital investment, and (c) still sees its industry power very much under-organized.” Those three things, by the way, have changed a little since I wrote that line. More on that in a bit.
  • Advertising: The industry is expected to top $220 million in podcast advertising revenue by the end of 2017, according to an Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) study. The study is the first of its kind, a long-awaited official research effort into a pool of the biggest players in the space — which gives us a floor, at the very least — that’s a marked a step up from that methodologically-fuzzy Bridge Ratings report that’s been floating about the past few years. (Yeah, it’s all totally weird.) The IAB study was also able to give us some valuable historical context: 2016’s podcast ad revenue came in at $119 million, while 2015 came in at $69 million.

I’ll be thinking about how the industry moves forward based on three dimensions:

  • Growth — whether audiences and revenues will continue to grow, obviously;
  • Sustainability — whether companies will meaningfully diversify their revenue streams and whether the industry will see its activities and fortunes spread out across a wide number of companies; and
  • Refinement — whether the ecosystem will improve upon its various inefficiencies, from discovery to measurement to monetization.

Cool. So, with all that out of the way, let’s talk about six big things that’ve stood out to me since January.

Read the rest of this newsletter issue.