Listeners now willing to pay to attend the recording of their favourite podcast.

Podcast fans are now willing to go watch the recording of their favourite shows in person and even with ticketing costs, creating a new revenue stream for personable podcasters. — AFP Relaxnews

It is not uncommon for podcast fans to attend recordings of their favourite audio program. While the pandemic momentarily interrupted these kinds of events, some creators have decided to move them online to maintain a link with their audience. Here's the lowdown.

Podcast fans are more likely to buy a product mentioned by a podcaster because they trust their judgment. Specialists in communication sciences and psychologists refer to these one-way emotional bonds with celebrities and content creators as "parasocial relationships."

This phenomenon helps to explain why some listeners like to attend the recording of their favourite program. Even if they have to pay for it.

The American start-up Moment House has understood this and offers podcasters the opportunity to broadcast online video versions of their program. It has reportedly sold 140,000 tickets for such events since March 2021, according to Hot Pod, a newsletter specialising in the podcast industry.

This new format is appealing to many creators, such as comedian Whitney Cummings, who hosts the "Good For You" podcast, and her colleague Heather McDonald, who runs "Juicy Scoop." They both offer their listeners the opportunity to experience virtual experiences with special guests.

The cost for these experiences? Usually less than US$20 (RM84). That's enough to become a genuine source of income for the most popular podcasters. Some have even pocketed half a million dollars, according to Hot Pod. Moment House receives a 10% commission on each ticket.

Combining sound and image

The US startup isn't the only entity bringing podcasting and video together. Spotify, the Swedish music streaming giant, has been trying to do this for nearly two years. It started offering some creators the ability to release video versions of their shows in July 2020.

The move isn't meant to take a backseat to audio, but rather to allow podcasters to enrich the listening experience for their listeners.

"Many podcast fans love watching their favourite podcasts as much as they enjoy listening to them. Through these visuals, fans can get to know their favourite podcast hosts even better, and creators can more deeply connect with their audiences," Daniel Ek's company said in a statement.

So far, this feature has been deployed to a few English-speaking podcasters such as the very popular Joe Rogan, Philip DeFranco, Gary Vaynerchuk and Heather McDonald.

It's a wise choice since most of them already broadcast filmed versions of their shows on YouTube. They have accumulated hundreds of thousands or even millions of views.

Spotify hopes to take on Google's subsidiary by offering podcast fans the ability to switch between audio and video according to their desires. Many already do this by discovering episodes of their favourite programs not on a streaming platform, but directly on YouTube.

One-third of listeners (34%) regularly visit the video platform to listen to podcasts, according to a study by Cumulus Media and Signal Hill Insights.

Whether in video form or not, podcasts continue to be a hit with consumers and advertisers. Its advertising market is booming and could reach US$2bil (RM8.4bil) by 2023, as estimated by the Interactive Advertising Bureau. Podcast players are trying to capitalise on this popularity by diversifying monetisation opportunities for audio program creators.

American start-up Glow offers listeners the opportunity to financially support the program of their choice with a few clicks. Once they subscribe, they can enjoy premium content on any listening platform (except Spotify and Pandora).

Other companies such as Luminary, Stitcher, Acast and Sybel are also working to convince consumers to pay for the podcasts they listen to, with varying degrees of success. Perhaps livestreaming and video podcasts can help the cause. — AFP Relaxnews

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