How BBC Is Looking To Podcasts To Engage New Audiences

How BBC Is Looking To Podcasts To Engage New Audiences
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PSFK had a chance to talk to Acast and BBC about using podcasts as a new revenue source for journalistic endeavors

Jiwon Kim
  • 4 may 2018

The future of journalism is changing with the widespread use of the Internet. Now, media outlets are constantly on the search for new methods and places to ensure financial sustainability. Surprisingly, BBC is no exception. Although BBC is a public broadcaster and its main source of income is the state, its funding is dependent on a tax that households with TVs must pay. With the decline of TV, BBC has to find a new sustainable business model—and has chosen podcast ads.

BBC has partnered up with Acast, a global audio platform, to look into podcasts. BBC actually began producing podcasts in 2004 and is one of the largest podcast producers in the world, with topics that range from news to entertainment. The organization thinks that podcasts are one of the best ways to engage younger listeners while providing on-demand content.

Acast has been developing audio and voice technology and also has the ability to utilize market analytics to target the right audience. PSFK had a chance to ask both organizations some questions on how it works, sitting down with Mary Hockaday, Controller of BBC World Services (English), and Acast CEO Ross Adams.

How are BBC and Acast are working together?

Hockaday: The BBC is partnering with Acast who will lead the commercialisation of BBC podcasts and audio outside of the U.K. We’ll be working closely with them to ensure that all advertising meets the BBC’s stringent Advertising and Sponsorship Guidelines for BBC Commercial Services.

 How does Acast help curate content for listeners?

Adams: Acast is an open garden, meaning we are platform agnostic and distribute our shows anywhere that a consumer might go to find a podcast. However, we also have our own app, where we are able to use data to predict what a listener might enjoy based on past listening habits and also on what other listeners with similar taste are enjoying. In each of our marquee markets, we also curate regionally specific discovery sections within our app.

How can Acast help organizations like BBC monetize content?

Adams: For publishers, one of the primary things Acast does is deliver data insights into how people are consuming their content so the publisher can make more informed decisions. Acast also drives the financial support necessary for publishers to continue making great audio content. Lastly, Acast creates distribution channels for the content to reach new audiences, whether through our own app or our relationships with podcatchers and databases like iTunes and Stitcher. Acast works with publishers of all sizes like Vice, where we are supporting their smart speaker content as well as their existing podcasts or Yahoo!— whom we work with to develop new shows and also move into new formats like daily dispatches.

What makes podcasts a great platform to reach people?

Hockaday: There’s been a real renaissance in audio in recent years, and podcasts are an integral part of that—people love the immersive and personal listening experience. Podcasts are a great way to reach new, younger listeners, and provide another convenient way to listen for our existing audience.

Apparently podcasts are not only the new way to consume media, but also to fund journalism, again pointing to the way that consumer demands and behaviors are the drivers of change and innovation.

BBC | Acast

The future of journalism is changing with the widespread use of the Internet. Now, media outlets are constantly on the search for new methods and places to ensure financial sustainability. Surprisingly, BBC is no exception. Although BBC is a public broadcaster and its main source of income is the state, its funding is dependent on a tax that households with TVs must pay. With the decline of TV, BBC has to find a new sustainable business model—and has chosen podcast ads.

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