Changes in content consumption habits have put audio in the spotlight
By Abraham Thomas
The German rock band Scorpions’ song, “The future is in the air…can feel it everywhere, blowing with the winds of change” is the perfect way to define the rise of audio across the world. From FM radio, vinyl, cassettes and compact discs to iPods, digital radio and audio streaming platforms — the journey of audio has been long and highly rewarding.
Audio is in the spotlight as our preferences have drastically evolved over time. While video content ruled the roost, with countless platforms making their way to our television sets over the last few years, causing a sense of screen fatigue, its dominance has faded. The growth in multi-device, multi-platform consumption of video content has also grown the consumption of audio content. Audiences are now rooting for mediums and platforms that are less disruptive in nature. As someone said, audio is eyes-free content. It can be easily consumed while doing other tasks, be it travelling, exercising or going about one’s daily chores. Visual overstimulation has caused the audio industry to mushroom as a vital escape, age no bar.
Terrestrial radio has been an effortless and engaging companion for generations now. It is friendly, comforting, entertaining and informative, all at once. The pandemic further enabled it to become a beacon of hope and positivity. However, one cannot deny its imperative transformation into digital but what is more interesting is mapping the emergence of the ongoing audio revolution. Changes in content consumption patterns have seen platforms and networks lay impetus to foster the bond with their listeners through multiple touchpoints.
Today, leading radio networks around the country are going down the platform-agnostic route to reach out to new audiences. It became the need of the hour for organisations to become digital-first entities. Many radio networks have embraced the acceleration in their growth as audio platforms like podcasts and smart speaker solutions are thriving. As per a recent PwC report, India is the world’s third-largest podcast listening market with 57.6 million monthly listeners. Also, India saw a 29.3 % increase in podcast consumption in the first year of the pandemic, according to a KPMG report. Radio has grown from a background mantlepiece medium to an engaged on-the-go mobile medium.
In essence, podcast is another form of radio storytelling converted into audio episodes for portable and easy consumption for modern consumers. While many would like to pit one against the other, I personally believe radio and audio OTTs are complementing each other, giving rise to immense opportunities where audio content is distributed to a global audience. With marquee properties of radio turning into podcasts for wider reach, people across all ages and geographies are enjoying this melange at just a click.
Another new wave that we see emerging is that of social audio. Clubhouse has already piqued everyone’s attention, and we will further see its contemporary avatars being adopted across different social media tools. As we go further, this audio revolution promises to be no longer dependent on a carrier medium or a dedicated device.
Today, it is crucial to be updated with every cultural phenomenon. In our fast-paced lives, with never-ending deadlines and just 24 hours in a day, how does one cope? This is where audio comes in. With a plethora of genres and formats, it is highly convenient — one can learn a new language, finish a book, get updated on the news and be entertained.
Propelled by the right technology and digital tools, we are at the crux of audio entertainment being further redefined. From innovative listening experiences, ubiquitous access and imaginative engaging content, the industry is flourishing like never before.
The author is CEO, Reliance Broadcast Network