Podland News

Podcast Predictions for 2021 with Steve Pratt, Partner at Pacific Content.

December 27, 2020 Season 1 Episode 5
Podland News
Podcast Predictions for 2021 with Steve Pratt, Partner at Pacific Content.
Show Notes Transcript

Join James Cridland and Sam Sethi on this week's show.

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James:

Welcome to Podland. Podland is sponsored by bud sprouts, the premier podcasting host, and a whole lot more there on buzzsprout.com. It's Thursday, December the 31st 2020. I'm James Cridland the editor of pod news here in Australia.

Steve:

I'm Sam Sethi the editor of Sam Talks Technology here in the UK and I'm Steve Pratt from Pacific content. And later. I'll be talking about predictions for 2021.

James:

He will. And in fact that we're doing that right now, 10 years ago, I first met Steve Pratt while he was running CBC radio three or station playing new Canadian music from Vancouver in Canada. A few years later, he left. Am I wondered why? It turns out he'd left to start up a business that helps brands tell stories on podcasts. Steve is co-founder of Pacific content. One of the cleverest Podcast companies out there, and every year Pacific content posts, an eagerly awaited blog, post the predictions for podcasting. For the next

Steve:

year, we'd gather all these predictions from all sorts of different people across the Podcast industry. And it's really interesting because most of these people are running. Companies are in senior roles and they're in different areas of the business. And so when you kind of see all these things in aggregate, they're pretty accurate. Like, cause these are people like this. This is where my area of the, of the world is going. Um, or these are the things that I'm seeing, or these are the things we're planning on doing in the year ahead. They're eerily accurate. I'm I'm kind of not surprised by the Spotify piece. Knowing that some people from Spotify and things were actually part of the people making predictions last year, your

James:

compilation got that, right. Uh, obviously consolidation, although you didn't need to be Einstein to work out that there'll be rather more consolidation,

Steve:

which is, um, I think both of those trends are back for this year as well. So it's a consolidation shocker.

James:

Yes. Who'd have thought.

Steve:

Although, my favorite thing from this year, uh, around the consolidation piece, I think it was from. Fellow Australian Sharon Taylor at Omni studio, basically saying like, I we're kind of running out of companies for people to buy at this point. Like at some point there'll be.

James:

Yeah, I think so one of the other things that you spotted last year, it was, or you predicted last year was major new players entering the industry. And I think Amazon music was the biggest major player, I guess, entering podcasting. Um, How'd you think Amazon music's going

Steve:

well? It's interesting. I think part of it, uh, depends on what happens with the rumors of whether they're acquiring Wondery, uh, immediately or not. Um, I mean, I think it, it takes a long time for anybody to change behavior patterns and lots of people are used to certain Podcast ops or certain. Services that they use. I think they were, they're gonna have to do some pretty interesting stuff to get people to change behaviors, but in terms of growing new audience members or introducing them to podcasts like men, like our, our, our whole business is, uh, is kind of based on working with brands, um, and helping them turn into media companies are thinking, act like media companies by making shows and learning how to market them. And one of the things we always do is think about what are the, what are the superpowers that brands have to be able to market. Shows or kind of grow the overall industry. I can't think of, you know, many companies that have more superpowers than Amazon. If they decide to want to push into a space. I certainly wouldn't bet against them

James:

now. Uh, Amazon, we're the largest advertiser in the world. In 2021, which I thought was interesting. And also here's an interesting fact that I learned the other week, the entire size of the Australian economy is smaller than Amazon.

Steve:

Was that on your citizenship test should have been. Yeah. What do you think about it?

James:

It should be interesting seeing what happens with Amazon. It's not in Canada yet. Is it?

Steve:

It is. Um, or it is, if it's not, it is very close to being it's it's either here or coming, so yes. Yeah. Hmm. I am surprised a little bit, like, I feel like there are huge opportunities, you know, I think, I think last year we said like, you know, I would not be surprised to see bigger efforts from companies like Facebook or LinkedIn or Twitter or something like that. And for all of those companies, I'm still kind of surprised. That there hasn't been anything in there. When you think about the opportunities for these companies that have targeted advertising options, to be able to like introduce a medium that you can use when the screen is off and provide advertising solutions that the industry is looking for. Um, it still seems like a. Maybe it's not a big enough industry for them yet, which sounds crazy. Uh, but maybe that's the piece, but I'm surprised that some of them haven't entered into the audio space.

James:

There's always been this sort of thing around audio, not necessarily being as sexy as video. Uh, so I, I wonder whether that is a worry to companies who are getting into a space that doesn't sound sexy enough for their investors.

Steve:

I dunno. Like I, I mean, I got to say, as we're wrapping out a pretty surreal year, Audio has been really resilient and it's been, you know, remarkably good for remote production where we can produce really high quality stuff without having to have people gather in the same place together. And it's the, the amount of time and engagement that audio provides compared to almost every other medium that is kind of moving more into kind of short attention span that you can still get. Huge completion rates on long shows and audio. It still feels pretty great to me, for anybody who's thinking about it. I, and if they haven't come around to it, I feel I do kind of feel like it's a little bit inevitable that people are going to have the light turn on at some point in the near future. I think you're right.

James:

The one thing that you missed last year was of course, nobody said that there would be a global pandemic, which was a mistake. So there we are, uh, this time around you have consolidated the various thoughts of the great and good from the industry,

Steve:

including yourself. Thank you so much.

James:

Oh, well, thank you. It was a, it was a great pleasure to be asked, um, into four different themes, um, consolidation, uh, new content strategies, tech innovation, and diversity. And there's look at consolidation for a bit. Cause I mean, obviously there is consolidation still about to happen, but it probably in a bit of a different way. It was interesting seeing Bob Pittman from iHeart radio talking about the importance of scale. I mean, he would say that wouldn't, he is one sort of side of it, but how important do you see scale, you know, large businesses? Getting involved in this space consolidating with smaller companies. How important is scale, do you think to where podcasting is going?

Steve:

I wish I w I mean, I'm sure everybody in podcasting wishes this, but I wish I was in the boardrooms of some very big companies right now, hearing how they're thinking about the future of podcasting. I've mentioned this in the article, you and I have talked about it. There's this the most fascinating podcast interview that I listened to this year around audio strategy was an episode that had the head of R and D of Spotify talking about where they're going in their different strategies. His name was, uh, Gustaf Soderstrom, and it was just really fascinating to think about where the. Power of having kind of like the F a full stack of, of all the different Podcast technologies and the pieces of the Podcast puzzle to be able to create a unique and differentiated user experience or where you can create innovation or where you can create better business results for advertisers. Like I know there's like a huge tension between open and closed and podcasting as it started. And as an long celebrated as an open ecosystem. I love the open ecosystem. I love the democratization of, of being able to produce and distribute out there. But it's, you know, if you kind of want to hear about the point of view of consolidation and why it's important for moving things forward. Fantastic interview. And I think there's a lot of companies that are, you know, if I think about Sirius XM with Pandora and simple cast and Stitcher, and AdsWizz. It feels like you're kind of building out everything from the same sort of strategy. And I'm guessing same with iHeart and Vox nest and the content that they've acquired over the last couple of years. You kind of want hosting, you want content, you want an app, you want ad serving, you want metrics, the whole deal. And when you have all of those, I think that's where interesting innovation on the user experience is going to be the strategies of, of how they're going to experiment in the next several years. And that'll be, I think, where I'm interested to see where they take Podcast.

James:

Yeah, I think you're right. And I think, you know, that that consolidation now is. Not necessarily, you know, one large company buying another large company, but actual companies buying a portfolio so that they have everything from the technology to the content, to the ad sales and everything else that they actually need. And you can so clearly see that in Sirius's case, you know, as one example. So, yeah. Who do you think we'll get wondering.

Steve:

I don't know if I have any insight into it other than I, you know, I probably everything I get, I read in pod news.net. Um, so I really don't like, I don't, I don't have any insights into it other than, you know, I, I, I think you're the last place I, I, uh, first and last place that I read that it's, uh, inexclusive negotiations with Amazon. So we'll see, uh, it would be, uh, that'd be a big game changer. I get there instantly a player if they do that.

James:

Yeah, I think so. It was interesting looking at Paul tracks data, which came out recently, which had a bunch of information around the most popular new podcasts of this year. And 10 out of the top 20 were from wandering. So they are a massive, massive company. When you look at the amount of listens that they get, but you also look at the very capable way that they can launch

Steve:

new shows. They're the best marketers. I know too. Like I got to say, they like, they make great shows. They know exactly who their audience is. They know what their, their sweet spot is for the type of shows they make. And they market them really, really well. And they use their existing audience really, really well in terms of like using the network to cross promote and. Yeah, there's it's, it's just a really well, well done.

James:

Yeah. It'll be really interesting seeing whether Amazon are buying it because of their prowess in podcasting or whether Amazon are actually buying Wondery because of the IP that they own, that they can then turn in terms and prime content, uh, and other things as well. But, uh, fascinating to watch.

Steve:

What is interesting? One of the predictions in here is, uh, from Hernan Lopez, the CEO of wonder, he talking about the importance of diversity of revenue, streams for podcasting and how twenty-five percent of wonders revenue is coming from TV, audio, and book licensing, as well as direct summer segment for Wondery plus. So, yeah, certainly for an Amazon, if you're, if you've got Amazon prime and you're looking for an IP pipeline, Wondering would be a pretty good bet there too. I think

James:

one of the things you talked about was new content strategies, um, and particularly, you know, uh, firstly there's, you know, crying out for different types of content, but also, uh, very much focusing on short form content, which is a, a subject close to my heart. Given that I make a podcast that's about four minutes long, every single day. That does really well on the places where podcasts don't. So things like smart speakers in particular, which are the biggest consumption method of listening to the pod news podcast. It's very good. What's your sort of thoughts around short form content, where you work at Rogers, which is a big Canadian broadcaster that makes a lot of short form content as well,

Steve:

kind of obsessed with short form audio right now. So my. COVID obsession has been tick talk. I've just been fascinated by the growth of it and seeing my kids use it and I've kind of dug into it. And it's just really, really fascinating to have a something that is so friendly for creators and so many easy ways to create. You know, I think that the phrase I heard in one of the podcasts I listened to about this year was, you know, that they've solved the blank canvas problem for creators. And I think one of those issues is the fact that it's short and they've got the ability to jump on memes and do at other creators and do dances, whatever. Like there's so many easy ways to do that. And it feels like audio. It doesn't have that yet. And it feels almost inevitable in a way. I think another one that I, it just may have been a 16 Z as well, but like talking about how the camera on the phone unlocked video creation for places like tech talk and Snapchat and the microphone really should be unlocking everybody's phones into a creation device. Also, if you have the right creator tools to make it easy and fun. So I, I, it feels like that to me is just something I'm super excited about. Yeah. The other really weird thing. And I mentioned this in the blog post, but I, I love Sam Harris's meditation app called waking up and they introduced this weird thing this year, where you can just sign up for these things called moments and randomly during the day. You agree to have a notification on your phone and just this things as like there's a new moment and you tap on it and it's less than a minute. And just like this little mindfulness prompt or an insight, or just something to think about has been kind of delightful. And I think I've been thinking just about how many uses there are for really short things in audio that I would be quite grateful for and be excited about. And then, you know, I think the other piece is just thinking. As we are all time challenged, you know, and to your point, like smart speakers, I'd be just really curious to hear what I, a feed of short form stuff that is not like not 30 minute shows, you know, 30 seconds to five minutes or something like that, what that would actually sound like and whether we would actually enjoy listening to that or not, uh, But I think there'll be some experimentation. The weird thing is that people have experimented with this and it just hasn't gone anywhere yet. You know, Twitter was first audio anchor was first kind of short form audio. And that, you know, Google acquired this company called 60 DB. That was specializing in short form audio. I remember even when Pacific content started like six years ago, you know, we would do a full show in may. It was kind of a magazine show. You know, for slacker or Shopify and they would have five or six stories in them and we put it out as a full episode, and then we would have like a single servings feed of just the short form stuff. And we made a couple short form. Podcast seem to make lots of sense different at the time. And it never like there, there was no tech talk like explosion of this stuff. So yeah. I wonder if the, if a bunch of that stuff is too early and maybe it'll be. Coming soon.

James:

Yeah. Maybe I saw something from there, the NPR station in Chicago, which again, just takes individual stories from one of their shows that they do. It's their sort of major morning show the idea of that. Nice. Book-ended short form content that, I mean, to be honest, would fit really well in a Spotify playlist. Yeah. And I think that's one of the difficulties with the Spotify playlist that I see is that, you know, you've got a couple of your favorite tunes followed by a 45 minute.

Steve:

Yeah, exactly. Yeah.

James:

Yeah. About something or other. No, that's not, that's not, that's not, that's not a thing.

Steve:

Here's my favorite song of tech talk and then three hours of Joe Rogan.

James:

Exactly. Exactly. And by the way, Joe Rogan is another really good example that I am beginning to give now, now of Podcast apps that haven't got it yet, where they're still promoting Joe Rogan to audiences in spite of the fact that there's no Joe Rogan on open RSS. Podcasting anymore. There's one show

Steve:

that's awkward,

James:

but anyway, let's not get there. Let's talk about tech innovation, because that's another part of the prediction blog posts that you wrote. There's lots of tech innovation going on. I think my contribution to that was to point it. Um, Adam Curry and, uh, Dave Jones who are doing some Sterling work with the Podcast index and particularly the Podcast, the podcasting namespace adding additional functions to. Podcasting in time. I wonder how many of those will actually take off or whether we'll all be consuming podcasts in Spotify, in the future.

Steve:

It's interesting. Like I, you know, we talked about a little bit about the, some of these companies trying to consolidate and. Likely build closed ecosystems. I feel like there is a, there, there are going to be multiple different Podcast industries in a way going forward. And one of them will still be a very thriving, open Podcast community. And, you know, Adam Curry coming back into the spaces like the, the original pod father, um, with Dave Weiner who kind of made this whole universe coming back into this, this gets exciting. And I feel like podcasting is still, you know, I, I know this is a bit silly to say with all the hundreds of millions. Being spent on it, on the, all these acquisitions, but it still feels like a relatively small industry that is still relatively young and there's still the opportunity to experiment and invent the future of it in a lot of different ways. And some of them are going to be closed experiments and some of them are going to be really fun and exciting and smart, open experiments. And I I'm, I'm just really happy to see it. It's fun. I think that's a very good point. One of the other themes that came out from all these industry leaders is not just short form, but just experimentation with different types of. Uh, formats of shows and I feel, yeah. You know, to your point, like, I don't think anybody wants to just here, this is what a podcast is. Uh, and that there's so much creative ground that is still fertile and, uh, and, and farmed. Um, Laura Meyer, who's just, I love her, her writing and, and point of view on stuff. She's one of the co-founders of three uncanny for really interesting podcasting company. Just the way she wrote about new formats. It was like, it got you excited. Hearing her the way that she writes about it, uh, like the first four words are like entirely exclamation Mark, new exclamation, Mark sounding, exclamation, Mark stuff, exclamation Mark. Um, there's a lot of hunger to go try stuff. And I think that is going to lead to some really, I think it's going to be a really fun, like, it's your point? Fun year in 2021 for this stuff. And yeah, even to the point of saying like, 2020, like good riddens for so many reasons, but it was a really heavy year. And so much of that was really consumed by like a lot of very, very important and very, very well done news and information and current affairs programming across a wide variety of like, just. Enormously important issues. A big theme that came up was like, there's going to be a counter reaction in 2021. And we are going to be focusing on escapism or things that are a little bit lighter or more fun or playful or creative. They're still going to be a lot of really important journalism and work covering big media issues. But we'll see where, whether the tone or the trends move into a different universe a little bit. You know, as, as, as a trend for 2021,

James:

where can people go to find out more about, uh, Pacific content and the other work that you do?

Steve:

Uh, Pacific hyphen content.com. Do

James:

you own the version without the hyphen?

Steve:

Sadly, no. Uh, when we were, when we first started, it was one of those things. It was like, it was a company that wasn't even using it, but it was still something like $10,000 to buy it. And we're just anyways. What are you going to do? What are you going to do? Um, yeah, just Google Pacific content. It's all good. All right. And the blog is@blogdotpacifichyphencontent.com. If you want to see the predictions piece, uh, it's huge. It's, it's, it's ridiculously long, but there's so many smart people with smart thoughts that are better than anything I've been able to share. Verbally with you here today.

James:

And of course, you'll find that in the show notes as well and reported recently, along with many of the other blog posts that you produce@podnews.net as well. Steve, thank you.

Steve:

Hey, thank you. It's great to talk to you at that's it for this week. If you enjoyed your trip to Podland, don't make it your loss. You can subscribe, but all the major podcast players or visit our website. Podland don't use if you enjoyed this episode. Thank you. And please tell your friends by sharing on your social.

James:

If you have any questions, please send us some audio to questions. Ad Podland star news. And if you want daily news, you should get pod news. It's free or pod news.net. Or ask your smart speaker to play the news from pod news. Podcasting news. Music is from ignites jingles. I used clean feet to interview Steve Pratt and edited this episode on Hindenburg journalist pro we're, hosted and sponsored by Buzzsprout. And we'll see you in Portland next week. Keep listening.