Never miss a great news story!
Get instant notifications from Economic Times
AllowNot now


You can switch off notifications anytime using browser settings.
12,086.70114.9
Stock Analysis, IPO, Mutual Funds, Bonds & More

Telling stories through audio to ‘Mann ki Baat’, the rise of podcast in India

Mann Ki Baat has been generating a revenue of Rs 5 crore for AIR every year for the last four years.

ET CONTRIBUTORS|
Updated: Oct 01, 2019, 03.54 PM IST
0Comments
Getty Images
iStock-848658582FINAL
We are a voice and audio first nation. We love to talk; we love to hear. Voice calls have surged 70% in two years despite fall in data charges.
By Sreeraman Thiagarajan

Technologies companies have always practiced in democratizing. Alexa has over 100,000 Skills, Google Playstore has over 3 million apps, and Apple Podcast has over 500,000 podcasts, all built by 3rd party. The beauty is that, someone created a platform to solve information asymmetry by creating a link between creator, developers, programmers and listeners, viewers, or users in general.

The link serving both the sides are fundamentally built on the principles of information economy. Connect information between supply and demand and make money in the information arbitrage. This model has served well to create companies like Uber, Zomato, Google, and more. In fact 'ubernization' is the colloquial term for the information economy.

For mature products and markets like transport, food and online news, this works perfectly because they had many decades worth of supply that can be better connected to demand. But what about categories that are nascent and/or latent in their demand?

Cloud Kitchens and Podcasts are two of my favorite examples. Why open a chain of kitchens when you can run another Swiggy? Why create original spoken-word audio and podcasts when you can launch another app that aggregates and streams? The fundamentals are simple, for Uber to be successful today, Henry Ford had to make cars first. That is, create supply before you can cater to demand.

The counter argument for this is, what if the demand is false and you are chasing a mirage? The best way to study that is to identify proxies and make meaningful assumptions about consumers' needs. And then, serve it differently.

Let's take podcast as example and start with data then look at anthropology and anecdotes. There are over a billion phones connections in the country but only 35% of them are smart. Which means audio content can reach devices where video fails. Remember the Kaan Khajura Tesan by Unilever in India? It was a missed-call based radio on-demand for media and internet dark regions in northern parts of India. They had over 10 million subscribers listening to audio content laced with sporadic ad jingles. The activity won a Cannes Gold award, the highest recognition in the field of advertising and marketing.

As of June 2019, PWC estimates Indian podcast listener base was at 40 million by end of 2018, a 58% rise from year before. But if we consider Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Mann Ki Baat as a podcast, then the baseline instantly moves to 600 million listeners.

Interestingly, at a time when OTT and videos are the buzzwords, Mann Ki Baat existing as a spoken-word audio validates the hypothesis that grassroots reach can be created with audio. Besides, the show has been generating a revenue of Rs 5 crore for AIR every year for the last four years. Create a user-base, revenue will follow.

Anthropologically speaking, there are many moments in our day when our hands and eyes are busy, tired or both. Studies indicate our daily commute time is 91 minutes in urban and 47 in non-urban locations. FM Radios (proxies for podcasts) were built on the basis of drive time, but they are linear, and the impatient generation wants a control over our choice of content. Podcasts in the genres of self-help, management, motivation and audio stories are top contenders replacing radio time when commuting.

Anecdotally, we are a voice and audio first nation. We love to talk; we love to hear. Voice calls have surged 70% in two years despite fall in data charges. The rise of smart speakers including Alexa Echo, Google Home, and innovations in audio on-demand Saregama Carvaan, Shemaroo Bakthi all validates the growing adoption of audio content consumption when hands and eyes are busy. Creating new age information economy is hard but totally possible.

Taking our own aawaz.com, we started as a pure play spoken-word audio on-demand in Hindi, creating every decibel of content in-house. We were catering to latent needs when we started this journey a year and half ago. But today, we have a thriving content creator program which converts our product into a platform.

September 30 marks international podcast day and there has never been a better time in India to be telling stories in audio.

( The writer runs aawaz.com a podcast platform in Indian Languages)

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this column are that of the writer. The facts and opinions expressed here do not reflect the views of www.economictimes.com.)

Also Read

Storytelling with a desi twist: Spotify to launch original podcasts in India

Beating the blues! It's gin and Scrabble for IVM Podcasts founder

Salt Attire founder finds comfort in Shane Parrish's podcast, 'dal-chawal'

Indian podcast network Aawaz.com associates with India vs Bangladesh Test Match

Comments
Add Your Comments
Commenting feature is disabled in your country/region.
Download The Economic Times Business News App for the Latest News in Business, Sensex, Stock Market Updates & More.

Other useful Links


Copyright © 2019 Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. All rights reserved. For reprint rights: Times Syndication Service