This story was first published in The Aleph Report.
Last week, Pocket Casts got acquired by a collective group that includes NPR, WNYC Studios (makers of RadioLab), WBEZ Chicago (makers of Serial), and This American Life. It’s yet another move in a space that’s been heating up for a while now.
Podcasting has been around for ages, but it hasn’t been until recently that it’s making a comeback. For years, it was hard, not only to find good content but to subscribe to it. On top of that, the only place you could listen to podcasts was on your computer.
Apple, smartphones and bandwidth improvements changed that. The simplicity of subscribing to a show on iTunes and listen to it on the Apple Podcast app made it a breeze. It opens the gates for mainstream adoption of podcasts.
Two significant milestones propelled the awareness of podcasts. The first one was the addition of official support for podcasts on iTunes in June 2005. The second milestone was the release of the iPhone on June 2007.
Nonetheless, awareness remained constant during a decade. In late 2014, Sarah Koenig and Julie Snyder released an experimental podcast called ‘Serial‘. The podcast went viral, smashed all podcasting records and went on to win the 2015 Peabody Award. As of June of 2017, it had become the most downloaded podcast ever with 175 million downloads. By mid-2015 David Carr named ‘Serial’ the First Breakout Hit.
Despite Serial’s success, podcast consumption remained low compared to other siblings like video or social media. Audio remains a much-loved but not-mainstream medium.